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Rights Begin at Home:Protecting yourself as aDomestic Worker

AcknowledgmentsThis is a revised version of a handbook first created by the AsianAmerican Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and bythe National Employment Law Project (NELP).Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerThis version of the handbook has been revised by NELP andDomestic Workers United, with assistance from Fordham LawSchool’s Stein Scholars Program. The staff of Damayan MigrantWorkers Association, the Urban Justice Center and AALDEFreviewed the handbook and provided valuable feedback.November 2010Sarah LebersteinStaff AttorneyNational Employment Law Project75 Maiden Lane, Suite 601New York, NY 10038212-285-3025 x313sleberstein@nelp.orgnPriscilla GonzalezDirectorDomestic Workers United1201 Broadway, Suite 907-908New York, NY 10001212-481-5747priscilla@domesticworkersunited.org

C. Work Authorization 241. Work Authorization Verification 242. Exception to the Work Authorization Verification Requirement 243. Filling out the I-9 Form 25D. False Promises of a Green Card 25E. A-3 and G-5 Visas 26F. Anti-trafficking Laws 27Federal anti-trafficking laws 27T and U Visas for trafficking victims 27New York anti-trafficking laws 27New Jersey anti-trafficking laws 28Connecticut anti-trafficking laws 28III. ENFORCING WORKER’S <strong>RIGHTS</strong> 30A. Demand letters 31B. Legal Action 321. Filing Complaints with Federal and State Agencies 32a. Violations of Wage and Hour Laws 32b. Workers’ Compensation 33c. Unemployment Insurance 342. Going to Court 34a. Small Claims Court 35New York small claims court 35New Jersey small claims court & the Special Civil Part 36Connecticut small claims court 37b. Court Costs 37C. Protection from Retaliation 38Federal anti-retaliation law 38New York anti-retaliation law 38New Jersey anti-retaliation law 38Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerIV. TIPS FOR FINDING WORK AND NEGOTI<strong>AT</strong>ING WITH AN EMPLOYER 40A. Finding Work 401. Tips for Workers Responding To an Ad 402. Employment Agencies 40New York law on employment agencies 40New Jersey law on employment agencies 41Connecticut law on employment agencies 41B. The Interview with the Employer 42C. Important Questions about Agencies 45D. Negotiating Payment 47E. What a Worker Should Get in Writing 47APPENDICES 49A. Income Tax Resources 50B. Federal and State Government Offices 51C. Legal Services Offices and Law Firms 55D. Domestic Workers Groups & Worker Centers 57E. Resources for Victims of Trafficking 59F. Sample Standard Employment Contract 60G. Sample Confirmation Letter 63H. Sample Demand Letter 64I. Sample Work Record 65J. ICE Policy Regarding Labor Disputes 66K. Statutes of Limitations and minimum wage rates, 2004-09 67L. New York Domestic Worker Bill of Rights - summary 68

IntroductionDomestic workers are nannies, housekeepers and elder caregivers whoprovide the invaluable household labor that frees others to work outsidethe home. They generally work in isolation and rarely have co-workers who canhelp them assert their rights. Many are immigrants with a limited knowledgeof the laws of this country or of the state in which they work. Some areundocumented and live in fear of being deported.Many federal and state labor laws exclude domestic workers, leaving them withfewer legal protections than most other workers. But while the laws do notreflect the full extent of the rights domestic workers deserve, they do giveworkers some important tools for protecting themselves on the job. Workers,advocates and organizers have used innovative organizing and advocacystrategies to make the best use of these existing legal protections and toadvocate for greater rights for domestic workers.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerThe passage of the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in New York this yearexpanded labor protections for domestic workers and has raised publicawareness of the problems in the industry.The goal of this handbook is to help domestic workers protect themselveswithin existing employment laws, specifically as they apply to domestic workersin New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.Part I of this guide explains the basic provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act(FLSA), the main federal law that gives workers the right to a minimum wageand overtime pay; the state labor laws in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut;tax law, workers compensation law, and unemployment insurance law; andprotection from abuse, discrimination and harassment.Part II discusses immigration issues affecting domestic workers, includingemployers’ threats to report workers to immigration authorities, work authorizationrequirements, information on visas, and anti-trafficking laws and immigrationrelief for trafficking victims.Part III describes methods for enforcing workplace laws through the use ofdemand letters and negotiations with employers, lawsuits, filing complaints withgovernment agencies and organizing, and discusses the benefits and limitationsof these strategies.Part IV contains guidelines and tips for domestic workers in their search forwork and negotiating employment arrangements.Laws that are not enforced have only symbolic value. The first step towardempowering workers is to educate them about their rights. This handbook ispart of that first step.1

I. Domestic Workers’ Labor RightsThis section explains the workplace laws that apply to domestic workers,including: minimum wage, overtime and wage payment laws; limitations onan employer’s right to make deductions from a worker’s wages; meal and restbreak protections; special rules for workers who sleep at their employer’s home;tax law; workers’ compensation law; unemployment insurance benefits; protectionsfrom abuse, discrimination and harassment; and requirements that employerskeep records of worker hours and wages.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerWorkers are entitled to these protections even if they are paid off-the-books.Most, but not all, of these laws afford protection to workers regardless of theirimmigration status.A. Wages and HoursMost domestic workers are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act(FLSA), the federal minimum wage and overtime law, and, in mostinstances, the state labor laws as well. Part-time babysitters and somecompanions to the sick and elderly, however, are excluded from the federaland some state minimum wage and overtime laws.Generally, where a worker is covered by more than one law, she is entitled toclaim the protection of the law that benefits her the most. If a worker is coveredby one law and excluded from the other – for example, if she is covered by thestate minimum wage but exempted from the federal minimum wage – she canclaim the protection of the one law that covers her.Workers and their advocates should try to get the best remedies available underany laws that may apply. Whether a domestic worker is considered a coveredemployee or falls into an excluded category depends on the nature of her workduties and whether she lives at her employer’s home. The distinction betweencovered and excluded categories is often difficult to draw. This section lays outthe basic rules; workers who want to know their status under the wage andhour laws should consult a lawyer.3

1. Minimum Wage & Wage Payment LawsWorkers are entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage in effect at thetime the work was performed. They must be paid for all hours they work.Workers who are protected by both the state minimum wage and the federalwage are entitled to the higher of the two rates. Workers exempted from thefederal minimum wage and/or overtime law but protected by a state law canclaim the protection of the state law.Workers who were paid less than the minimum wage in past years may stillbe able to claim unpaid wages from their employer.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerThe chart in Appendix K shows the federal and state minimum wagesover the past 6 years.Federal Minimum Wage 1The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour.Exemptions from the Federal Minimum Wage 2Both the FLSA and the state labor laws completely or partially exempt sometypes of domestic workers.Under the FLSA, casual babysitters (workers whose employment is irregularor intermittent and whose vocation is not babysitting) and “companions”(workers who provide home-based care to the elderly and disabled) are exemptfrom both the federal minimum wage and overtime laws. FLSA also exemptslive-in domestic workers from overtime although not from the federal minimumwage.Even if a worker is partially or completely exempted from the FLSA, she maybe covered by a state-level minimum wage law.5

New York Minimum Wage & Wage Payment LawsNew York minimum wage 3The New York State minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.As of the effective date of the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in New York -November 29, 2010 – all domestic workersare now covered by New Yorkminimum wage and overtime laws, with the exception of part-time babysittersemployed on a casual basis. Minimum wage coverage extends to all companions,who are excluded from FLSA.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerFor a summary of the changes to minimum wage and overtime coverage made bythe Bill of Rights, see Appendix L.“Spread of hours” pay 4New York workers who earn the minimum wage and whose hours add up tomore than ten hours in a day—for example, from 9am to 8pm—have a right toreceive an extra hour’s pay at the minimum wage rate. The calculation of thenumber of hours includes meal and rest breaks and time between shifts. Courtsin New York are split on the issue of whether this rule applies to workers whoare paid more than the minimum wage.New York wage payment law 5Under New York law, “manual workers” are entitled to weekly payment of wages;the employer has seven days after the end of the week in which the wages areearned to pay the employee. New York regulations define “manual worker” as“mechanic, workingman or laborer.” Other workers must be paid at leastsemi-monthly on a designated, regular payday. Although there is no guidanceindicating that domestic workers are “manual workers” entitled to weeklypayment of wages, workers and advocates may make this argument. At thevery least, domestic workers are entitled to be paid every 2 weeks.Employers may not deposit the worker’s wages directly into the bank withoutthe worker’s prior written consent. If the worker is terminated or theemployment otherwise ends, the employer must pay the worker her wagesno later than the next regular payday. The employer must send the workerher wages by mail at the worker’s request.New Jersey Minimum Wage & Wage Payment LawsNew Jersey minimum wage 6The New Jersey state minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.The New Jersey minimum wage and overtime laws exempt part-timebabysitters. All other domestic workers and companions in NJ – live-in and liveout– are covered by the state’s minimum wage and overtime laws.7

Rights begin at homeNew Jersey wage payment law 7In New Jersey, domestic workers must be paid at least twice a month and nomore than ten days after the end of the pay period. The employer must establisha payday ahead of time with the worker. If the worker is fired or the employmentotherwise ends, a worker must be paid by the next regularly scheduled payday.A worker can choose to have her wages directly deposited into the bank, but theemployer cannot force her to accept direct deposit.Connecticut Minimum Wage & Wage Payment LawsConnecticut minimum wage 8The Connecticut state minimum wage is $8.25 an hour.The Connecticut minimum wage law follows the FLSA exemptions and exemptscasual babysitters and companions. Because the Connecticut Minimum WageAct tracks the FLSA exemptions, any changes to coverage of domestic workersunder federal law will similarly change the scope of coverage under theConnecticut minimum wage law.Connecticut wage payment law 9Domestic workers in Connecticut must be paid on a regular, weekly payday nomore than eight days after the end of the pay period. If a worker quits or is laidoff, she must be paid her wages in full on the next payday. If the worker is fired,her employer must pay her wages in full by the next business day.2. OvertimeFederal overtime law 10Overtime is extra pay for hours worked over 40 per week for a single employer.Live-in domestic workers are exempted from federal overtime protections (butare generally covered by the federal minimum wage). Casual babysitters andcompanions are exempt from both the federal minimum wage and overtime.Whether a domestic worker qualifies for overtime pay depends on whether shelives with her employer and her job duties. As with the minimum wage laws,workers are entitled to the protection of the overtime law that benefits them the most.Overtime for “live-out” workers under federal law 11 (does not includecompanions and casual babysitters): If a worker does not live with heremployer she has a right under federal law to receive standard overtime pay of1½ times her regular hourly wage for every additional hour she works over 40hours in a week, whether or not she is documented. Her overtime pay must becalculated based on her regular rate of pay (prior to any deductions for the cost offood and lodging).8

Overtime for “live-in” workers under federal law: 12 Domestic workers whoreside at the employer’s home are not covered by the federal overtime law. Todetermine whether a worker resides in the home of her employer, courts mayconsider how many nights or hours per week she sleeps at her employer’shome, and the condition of her sleeping area.New York overtime law 13Under New York law, domestic workers, including companions employed by aprivate household, receive overtime of 1½ times their regular rate of pay.Companions employed by an agency receive overtime at a rate of 1½ times theminimum wage. Live-out workers are entitled to overtime after 40 hours in aweek, while live-in workers receive overtime after 44 hours in a week.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerOvertime for “live-out” workers under New York law: Live-out domesticworkers, including companions employed directly by the private household,receive 1½ times their regular hourly wage for every hour worked over 40 hoursper week.Overtime for “live-in” workers under New York law: Domestic workers whoreside at the employer’s home, including companions employed directly by theprivate household, receive 1½ times their regular hourly wage after 44 hours ofwork in a week.Overtime for “live-out” agency-employed “companions” under New Yorklaw: “Companions” who are employed by an employer or agency that is not thehousehold using their services receive 1½ times the minimum wage for everyhour worked over 40 hours per week.Overtime for “live-in” agency-employed “companions” under New Yorklaw: “Companions” who are employed by an employer or agency that is not thehousehold using their services receive 1½ times the minimum wage for everyhour worked over 44 hours per week.New Jersey overtime law 14Under NJ law, all domestic workers, except for part-time babysitters, areentitled to overtime pay of 1½ times their regular hourly rate of pay forevery hour worked over 40 in a week. New Jersey state overtime law appliesto companions and to live-in domestic workers, who are exempt from thefederal overtime law.Connecticut overtime law 15Live-in domestic workers in Connecticut are exempted from the state’s overtimeprotections. Live-out domestic workers, except for casual babysitters andcompanions, are entitled to overtime pay of 1½ times their regular hourly rateof pay for every hour worked over 40 in one week.9

Rights begin at homeNew YorkSummary of Minimum Wage and Overtime Coverage, State-by-StateLive-out domestic workersLive-in domestic workersNY Minimum Wage NY Overtime Federal Minimum Wage Federal OvertimeYesYesYes -- 1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hrs in a weekYes -- 1½ times theregular rate of payafter 44 hrs in a weekYesYesYes --1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hours in aweekNot CoveredLive-out companionsemployed by a privatehouseholdYesYes -- 1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hrs in a weekNot CoveredNot CoveredLive-in companionsemployed by a privatehouseholdYesYes -- 1½ times theregular rate of payafter 44 hrs in a weekNot CoveredNot CoveredLive-out agency-employedcompanionsYesYes -- 1½ times theminimum wageafter 40 hrs in a weekNot CoveredNot CoveredLive-in agency-employedcompanionsYesYes -- 1½ times theminimum wageafter 44 hrs in a weekNot CoveredNot CoveredCasual BabysitterNot Covered(part-time babysittersemployed on a casual basis)Not CoveredNot CoveredNot CoveredNew JERSEYNJ Minimum Wage NJ Overtime Federal Minimum Wage Federal OvertimeLive-out domestic workersYesYes -- 1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hrs in a weekYesYes --1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hours in aweekLive-in domestic workersYesYes -- 1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hrs in a weekYesNot CoveredLive-out companion(employed byhousehold and/or agency)YesYes -- 1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hrs in a weekNot CoveredNot CoveredLive-in companion(employed byhousehold and/or agency)YesYes -- 1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hrs in a weekNot CoveredNot CoveredLive-out agency-employedcompanionsYesYes -- 1½ times theminimum wageafter 40 hrs in a weekNot CoveredNot CoveredCasual BabysitterNot Covered(part-time babysitters)Not CoveredNot CoveredNot Covered10

connecticutLive-out domestic workersConn. Minimum Wage Conn. Overtime Federal Minimum Wage Federal OvertimeYesYes -- 1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hrs in a weekYesYes --1½ times theregular rate of payafter 40 hours in aweekLive-in domestic workers Yes Not CoveredYes Not CoveredProtecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerLive-out companion(employed byhousehold and/or agency)Live-in companion(employed byhousehold and/or agency)Not Covered Not Covered Not Covered Not CoveredNot Covered Not Covered Not Covered Not CoveredCasual BabysitterNot CoveredNot CoveredNot CoveredNot Covered11

Rights begin at homeThe New York Domestic Worker Bill of Rights –VICTORY!The Domestic Worker Bill of Rights was signed into law on August 31,2010, marking the culmination of a six-year organizing campaign led byDomestic Workers United and the New York Domestic Workers JusticeCoalition to raise standards for the more than 200,000 domestic workers in NewYork, most of whom are immigrants of color. The first legislation of its kind, theBill of Rights closes gaps in labor laws that had left domestic workers with fewerrights than other workers in the state, and adds new protections. These provisionsinclude:Expanded minimum wage coverage. The law extends minimum wage coverage topart-time babysitters, except those employed on a casual basis, and to live-incompanions. These groups had not been covered by the minimum wage.Expanded overtime coverage. The law raises the overtime rate to 1½ times theregular rate of pay for some groups of domestic workers who werepreviously only entitled to 1½ times the minimum wage.One day of rest in each calendar week. The worker receives overtime pay if sheagrees to work on her day of rest.Three paid days off per year, after one year of employment.Workplace Protection. Protection against sexual harassment and harassmentbased on race, religion, or national origin by domestic employers; and coveragefor full-time and part-time domestic workers for temporary disability benefits(pending legislative revision).DOL Study. The law requires the Department of Labor to issue a report on thefeasibility and practicality of domestic workers organizing for the purpose ofcollective bargaining.These changes went into effect on November 29, 2010, 90 days after thesigning of the Bill.For more information, see the NY DOL’s website at http://www.labor.state.ny.us/sites/legal/laws/domestic-workers-bill-of-rights.page.12

Rights begin at home3. Other Wage & Hour Provisionsa. Deductions for Meals and LodgingFederal law on deductions 16FLSA permits employers of domestic workers to deduct, from the worker’swages, the reasonable cost of meals, lodging, or other benefits that theyprovide to the worker – even if the deductions reduce the worker’s pay belowthe minimum wage. If the employer maintains records of its actual costs, theemployer may reduce the worker’s salary by the actual cost or the fair value(whichever is less) of the meal, lodging, or similar benefits. Even if an employerdoes not maintain any records, though, the employer may still reduce adomestic worker’s salary by the following amounts:Breakfast$2.72/dayLunch$3.63/dayDinner$4.53/dayTotal for day can be no more than $10.88Lodging$54.38/weekNote that where the state law also provides a schedule of maximum deductions,as New York and Connecticut do, the employer may only deduct the lower of thetwo rates.Federal law imposes these additional restrictions on deductions: 17n Employers may not charge the worker more than the actual cost of whatis provided to her, or deduct for the cost of anything that is primarily for theemployer’s own benefit, such as safety equipment, tools, or uniforms.n Employers cannot deduct the cost of any housing that violates health orsafety regulations.n If a worker is expected to travel with her employer, the employer mustpay her expenses.n If the worker works at a party or function held by her employer, the employercannot deduct any tips she receives from her wages.New York law on deductions 18New York law authorizes only the following kinds of deductions:n Those required by law, such as Social Security contributions and other taxes;n Those benefits to which the worker consents in writing, such as health insurancepremiums, pension payments, and union dues; andn Other deductions which benefit the worker and to which the worker consentsin writing, as long as they do not exceed 10% of the worker’s gross wages in agiven pay period.14

If the employer provides meals and lodging, he or shecannot deduct more than these rates:MealsLodgingHouse or apartment and utilities$2.50 per meal$3.10 per day$5.80/dayEmployers can only deduct for meals that are “adequate and nutritious.”Lodging “includes room, house or apartment”, and must “meet generallyaccepted standards for protection against fire, and all structural, sanitationand similar standards.”Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerNew Jersey law on deductions 19New Jersey law allows employers to make deductions for food and lodgingprovided to a worker but the employer faces a high burden in claiming suchdeductions. The deduction is limited to the “fair value” of the food and lodging,defined as “the cost of operation and maintenance including adequatedepreciation plus a reasonable allowance for interest on the depreciatedamount of capital invested by the employer.” An employer who claims adeduction is required to maintain records of the cost of furnishing such food orlodging. If the lodging provided is out of compliance with the law, or if there isno fair market value for the lodging, the “fair value” is zero and the employermay not deduct anything from the worker’s wages. Items found to be primarilyfor the benefit of the employer may not be included in the cost. Employerscannot profit from providing the worker with meals and lodging.Connecticut law on deductions 20Connecticut law allows employers to take deductions from workers’ wages forthe cost of food and lodging, even if the deductions bring the worker’s cashwages below the minimum wage, but an employer may not make anydeductions from a worker’s wages for food or lodging unless the worker agreesto the arrangement when she is hired. Employers can only deduct for food thatis “adequate and nutritious,” and for a room or apartment that is a reasonablesize and has enough privacy, heat, light, and ventilation.The maximum allowable deductions are included below:LODGING:Room occupied aloneRoom sharedRoom with shared bedHousing of more than one room$4.00/week$3.00/weekNo deduction allowedThe Labor Commissioner may establish areasonable allowance based on prevailingrentals of similar units.15

Rights begin at homeFOOD:Light meal $0.45Maximum deduction per dayfor light meals $0.70Full meal $0.85Maximum deduction per dayfor full meals $1.80b. Special Rules for Workers who Sleep at their Employer’s HomeGenerally, workers must be compensated for all of the hours they work.Calculating the number of hours worked becomes more complicated when aworker lives at her employer’s home or works overnight hours for all or partof the work week.Federal law on sleep time 21Under federal law, a worker required to be on duty for less than 24 hours at atime is considered to be working for the entire period of time she is on duty,even if she is provided with a place to sleep and allowed to sleep, or does otherpersonal activities when not busy.Live-in domestic workers on duty for periods of more than 24 hours at a timemust be paid for the full period of time they are on duty, including sleep andmeal periods, unless the worker and employer agree to exclude time for sleeping.This agreement could be in the form of a general arrangement made whenthe worker first starts employment.An employer can only exclude sleeping time from working hours if:n the employer provides the worker with adequate sleeping facilitiesn the exclusion is limited to eight hours, andn the worker is able to get an uninterrupted night of sleep.If the worker’s sleep is interrupted by a call to work, the time interrupted countsas hours worked. If the worker cannot get at least five hours of sleep during thescheduled off-duty period, she must be paid for the entire night.The New York, New Jersey and Connecticut State laws provide additional rulesregarding compensation for sleeping and on-call time.New York law on sleep time 22New York law states that employees who live at their employer’s homeare not considered to be working: (1) during their normal sleeping hourssolely because they are required to be on call, or (2) at times when they areallowed to leave the home. Note that the federal rules offer better protection toworkers on this issue.16

New Jersey law on sleep time 23Live-in domestic workers, and workers who work irregular on-duty hours,must be paid for no less than 8 hours for each day on duty. On-call time may becounted as hours worked if the worker is called to work so frequently or is sorestricted during the on-call time that she cannot use that time effectively for herown benefit. If a worker arrives for work at her employer’s request, she must bepaid for at least one hour of work, even if she is immediately sent home.Connecticut law on sleep time 24Workers in Connecticut can count all time that they are required to be in theemployer’s home and all time on duty as hours worked. Meal times are notconsidered work time unless the worker is required to perform work during themeal time.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Workerc. Meal & Rest Breaks and Days of RestFederal law on meal & rest breaks 25There is no right to a meal or rest break under the federal law. However, if anemployer does provide short breaks of 5 to 20 minutes, federal law provides thatthe break time be considered compensable work time. An employer can countlonger meal breaks of 30 minutes or more as unpaid time.New York law on meal & rest breaks and days of rest 26New York law entitles workers who work 6 or more continuous hours to a30-minute paid meal break. The employer is not required to pay the worker forthe meal period. If the shift begins before 11am and lasts six hours, the worker’sbreak must be between 11am and 2pm. If the shift begins before 11am and endsat 7pm or later, the worker must be allowed an additional rest break of at least20 minutes between 5pm and 7pm.The New York Domestic Worker Bill of Rights grants most domestic workersthe right to at least 24 continuous hours of time off in each calendar week.If the worker voluntarily agrees to work on her day of rest, she must be paidtime-and-a-half of her regular rate of pay for all hours worked on that day.The new law also grants workers 3 paid days off per year after one year’semployment with one employer.New Jersey law on meal & rest breaksNew Jersey law does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks.Connecticut law on meal & rest breaks 27Most domestic workers cannot claim the protection of Connecticut’s meal andrest break laws. Although Connecticut law states that employers are required toprovide employees with 30-minute meal breaks for every 7 and 1/2 hour shift,this law only applies to employers with more than 5 employees at a time and isnot applicable to workers whose duties can be performed by only one individual.17

Rights begin at home4. Income and Other Employment TaxesRegardless of whether a worker is paid in cash or by check, she is legallyrequired to report earnings and pay income taxes and FICA taxes (socialsecurityand Medicare taxes) unless her annual income falls below the federalthreshold set by the Internal Revenue Service. In 2009, the federal threshold fortaxpayers under age 65 was $9,350 for single workers and $18,700 for marriedcouples filing jointly. 28 Workers may also be required to pay state and municipalincome taxes in addition to federal taxes.A domestic worker can request that her employer withhold federal and state incometaxes from her pay if she desires, but the employer is not required to do so.Whether a worker requests that the employer withhold income taxes or not, theemployer should provide the worker with wage and tax statements at the endof the calendar year. Workers should double-check the statement for accuracy,making sure the employer has not over- or under-stated the wages paid.Even if her income is very low, a worker should consider filing a return as shemay be entitled to a refund. If a worker does not have a social security number,she can still report earnings, pay taxes, and potentially receive a refund using anIndividual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). ITINs are tax processingnumbers issued by the Internal Revenue Service to people who need a U.S.taxpayer identification number but who don’t have, and are not eligible for, asocial security number. The ITIN should never be used in place of a socialsecurity number where a social security number is required.For more information on ITINs, seehttp://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96287,00.html.For a list of groups that can assist low-wage workers with tax issues, seeAppendix A.5. Workers’ CompensationWorkers’ compensation is an insurance program authorized by the state thatprovides compensation to workers who have suffered a job-related injury. Theinjured worker receives benefits regardless of who is to blame – the worker, theemployer, a co-worker, or another person. Outside of these guaranteed benefits,the employee usually does not have the right to demand compensation from theemployer for the injuries (i.e. through a lawsuit). Benefits include monetarycompensation (at some percentage of the worker’s salary) and medical treatment.In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut a worker’s immigration status has nobearing on her eligibility for workers’ compensation. Domestic workers,however, are subject to special eligibility rules in New York and Connecticut(see below).18

In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, a worker must file aclaim with the appropriate workers’ compensation board in her state.Similar to state practices with wage claims, it is against the law for an employerto fire or otherwise discriminate against any worker who claims or attempts toclaim workers’ compensation benefits, or because the employee testified or isabout to testify in a workers’ compensation matter.New York workers’ compensation law 29Domestic workers in New York are entitled to workers’ compensation if theywork 40 hours or more a week for the same employer. Domestic workers whowork fewer than 40 hours a week may be covered by workers compensation iftheir employer carries a homeowners’ insurance policy that provides coveragefor household workers.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerNew Jersey workers’ compensation law 30Domestic workers in New Jersey are entitled to workers’ compensation.Connecticut workers’ compensation law 31Domestic workers in Connecticut are entitled to workers’ compensation if theyare regularly employed for 26 hours or more per week.6. Unemployment InsuranceUnemployment insurance (UI) is a state-run program that provides someincome to workers who lose their jobs. Payments are based on the amountof money the worker earned during the previous year.The main eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance are:1. The worker must have lost her most recent job through no fault of her ownu for example, the employer could not afford to employ the worker any moreor moved out-of-state;2. The worker must be currently unemployed or partially unemployedu for example, if the employer cuts the work week from five to three or fewerdays and significantly cuts the worker’s pay;3. The worker must currently be able to work and be looking for work; and4. The worker must have worked enough weeks and earned enough in wagesin the past year-and-a-half.u Generally speaking, workers must have earned more than $1,600 in a calendarquarter (3-month period) and worked more than six out of the last 18 months toqualify. It does not matter whether the earnings came from a single job or fromdifferent jobs. The earnings requirements are very complicated, however, andworkers who are unsure about whether they qualify should go ahead and apply.19

Rights begin at homeA worker is no longer eligible for unemployment insurance benefits when shegets a new full-time job.Undocumented workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits in any state. 32The unemployment insurance office will likely check the immigration status ofany applicant for UI benefits; filing false documents at the UI office can result inserious legal problems.Workers who are otherwise eligible may file for benefits even if their employersfailed to pay unemployment insurance taxes or paid them off-the-books.Workers paid off-the-books may be asked to show some proof of employmentto the Department of Labor, including vouchers, checks, their own records ofemployment, personal tax returns, or record of bank deposits; even their owntestimony may be a form of proof.For more information on the policies of state DOL offices with regards to UI claims,please see Appendix B.7. Abuse, Discrimination, and HarassmentFederal anti-discrimination lawDomestic workers are not covered by many laws prohibiting discriminationand harassment in the workplace, either because the law specifically excludesdomestic workers or because the law only applies to employers who employmultiple employees (and most domestic workers work alone).The 1964 Civil Rights Act 33 and the Americans with Disabilities Act 34protect workers from discrimination due to race or disability. These laws,however, only apply to employers who have at least 15 workers. Similarly,the Age Discrimination in Employment Act 35 , which protects workers fromage discrimination, only applies to employers with 20 or more employees.New York anti-discrimination and anti-harassment law 36The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights prohibits the sexual harassment ofdomestic workers by their employers, and prohibits domestic employersfrom harassing workers based on the workers’ gender, race, national origin,or religion.New Jersey anti-discrimination law 37New Jersey’s Law against Discrimination and Discrimination in Wages Lawboth specifically exempt domestic workers.Connecticut anti-discrimination law 38Domestic workers are excluded from the definition of “employee” underConnecticut’s employment discrimination statutes. Therefore, domestic workersare not entitled to this protection under state law.20

Criminal Abuse and HarassmentIt is illegal for anyone, including an employer, to force a worker to engage inphysical or sexual contact, or to hit or physically threaten a worker. These arecriminal acts that a worker in any state can report to the police. The worker mayalso want to get assistance from a community organization. Workers shouldrecord the details of any abuse, including dates, times, locations, gestures,comments and her responses in a notebook.8. Record-Keeping Requirements for EmployersProtecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerFederal and state laws require employers to keep accurate employment records,and employers can be penalized if they fail to do so.Federal record-keeping requirements 39The FLSA requires employers to maintain payroll records that show the worker’sname, social security number, address, total hours worked by the worker foreach week, any deductions or credits taken by the employer, and overtime pay.No particular form of record is required, but all of the information must be keptfor 3 years.If the employer does not keep adequate records, and a legal dispute arises, theburden is on the employer to come up with evidence disproving the worker’stestimony and evidence showing how much she has worked and what she isowed.Employers are not required to keep records of specific hours worked for liveindomestic workers. Instead, the employer may create a work agreement thatstates the worker’s hours, or can require the worker to record her own hoursand submit them to the employer in regular intervals. However, if an employerdoes not keep good records, this does not mean that the worker cannot file acomplaint.Workers should keep their own records of wages, deductions, and hours workedwhenever possible. During a dispute, employers may argue that the workerworked fewer hours than she actually did, and/or may present inaccurate orfalse records. In these situations, the worker’s own records can be very helpfulto her claim.See Appendix I for a sample work record.New York record-keeping requirements 40New York State law requires employers to keep payroll records that showhours worked, gross wages, deductions, and net wages. These records mustbe preserved for six years. In the event of a legal dispute, an employer whoviolates the recordkeeping requirements bears the burden of proving that thecomplaining employee was paid all contested wages, benefits and wagesupplements.21

New Jersey record-keeping requirements 41New Jersey law requires all employers to keep detailed records of their workers’wages and working conditions for six years. Any employer making deductionsfrom a worker’s wages for food or lodging must keep records that prove the costof providing the food or lodging.Connecticut record-keeping requirements 42Employers are required to keep records of their workers’ hours, wages andworking conditions for at least three years. Records must include: the worker’sname, social security number, complete address, hours worked, cash wagespaid, deductions claimed for food and lodging, and extra pay for overtime. Connecticutrecord-keeping law provides the same basic protections as the federallaw. An employer who has failed to keep wage and hour records bears the burdenof showing evidence of the precise amount of work performed.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerII. Immigration issues related to employmentThis section addresses concerns particular to immigrant workers, includingemployers’ threats to report a worker to Immigrations and Custom Enforcement(ICE); employers’ threats to confiscate a worker’s passport; work authorizationrequirements; false promises by employers to obtain a green card, A-3 and G-5Visas; and anti-trafficking laws.A. Employers’ Threats to Report a Worker to ICE 43Regardless of immigration status, workers are entitled to file complaints forunpaid wages, workers’ compensation, and most other employment-relatedproblems under both state and federal law (except for unemploymentinsurance). The worker should not face questions about her immigrationstatus, and employment and labor agencies are not allowed to enforceimmigration laws. Federal law prohibits employers from reporting workersto immigration authorities in retaliation for exercising their rights.ICE has an internal policy that limits immigration enforcement investigations inworkplaces where there is an ongoing labor dispute. Labor disputes include:wage and hour violations, health and safety violations, workers’ compensationclaims and discrimination complaints. Nonetheless, workers should refuse toanswer any questions about their immigration status or social security numbersby employers or public officials and should report any questions about these to atrusted community advocate.23

Rights begin at homeThe National Immigration Law Center’s guide, “How to ProtectYourself when Filing a Complaint against Your Boss,” offerssuggestions for workers who want to report the violations of theiremployers. The guide is available at: http://nilc.org/immsemplymnt/IWR_Material/Worker/08-How_to_protect_yourself.pdf.B. Employers’ Threats to Confiscate a Worker’s PassportIt is wrong for an employer to take away a worker’s passport or threaten todo so. The worker may be able to take legal action against the employer forthese wrongful acts. The worker should consult a lawyer if her employerconfiscates or threatens to confiscate her passport. The lawyer and workercan decide on the appropriate legal strategy taking into consideration theworker’s immigration status and whether she is currently involved in alawsuit against her employer.C. Work Authorization 44Employers do not need to know a worker’s immigration status. An employeronly needs to know whether a worker is authorized to work in thiscountry. Federal immigration law makes it unlawful to employ someoneknowing that person does not have work authorization.1. Work Authorization VerificationEmployers are generally required to fill out an Employment Eligibility VerificationForm (called an “I-9 Form”) together with the employee in order to prove theemployer did not knowingly employ someone without work authorization.2. Exception to the Work AuthorizationVerification Requirement 45Work authorization verification is NOT required for casual workers orindependent contractors.It is important to note that while a person who contracts with an independentcontractor or casual worker is not required to complete an I-9 Form, theperson cannot contract with an independent contractor or casual workerhe or she knows to be undocumented.The following are explanations of who qualifies as a “casual” worker(category a) and “independent contractor” (category b).a. Casual Workers: 46 Persons employed for casual domestic work in a privatehome on “sporadic, irregular, or intermittent” basis.◆ Example: An occasional babysitter—but not a full-time nanny24

. Independent contractors: 47 A worker may be considered an “independentcontractor” under immigration law if she:◆ Supplies the tools or materials she uses for work◆ Makes services available to the general public◆ Works for a number of clients at the same time◆ Has an opportunity for profit or loss as a result of labor or services provided◆ Invests in the facilities for work◆ Directs the order or sequence in which the work is to be done◆ Determines the hours during which the work is to be done.No one of these factors is determinative. They are all taken into consideration.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Worker3. Filling out the I-9 FormIn cases where the employer is required to verify work authorization, theemployer will fill out an I-9 form with the employee. On this form, the employermust verify that he or she has examined a document that shows the employeeis authorized to work. The I-9 form lists acceptable forms of proof of workauthorization. The worker may choose which document(s) from the list to showthe employer. The employer cannot refuse to accept a document that is on thelist, and cannot ask the worker for more or different documents than the onesthe worker provides. The employer does not have the right to keep the originaldocuments. A copy is enough.For more information, see the National Immigration Law Center’s guide,“Proving Work Authorization and Re-verification,” available at:http://nilc.org/immsemplymnt/IWR_Material/Worker/01-Proving_Work_Auth.pdf.D. False Promises of a Green CardEmployers may offer to take care of a worker’s immigration matters, butimmigration status is a matter for an immigration attorney. (The legal andcommunity groups listed in Appendices C and D may be able to help workersfind reliable immigration attorneys.)Often employers say that they will sponsor a worker for a green card; however,it can take many years to obtain a green card for a domestic worker. In orderto sponsor a worker for a green card, an employer has to first make anapplication to the U.S. Department of Labor for employment certificationusing Form 750A. The employer has to show that he or she attempted to hiresomeone who was already work authorized in the U.S., but that no one wasavailable with the required qualifications. A worker must also submit acompanion form, Form 750B. 48 The worker is also required to sign theApplication for Permanent Labor Certification saying that she intends to acceptthe job with the employer if the petition is approved; if a worker has not signed25

Rights begin at homesuch a form, her employer has not begun the process of sponsoring her. Then,even if the employment certification is granted, the employer still has to file additionalpaperwork on behalf of the worker—Form I-140 Immigrant Petition forAlien Worker. 49If the I-140 is approved, then the worker will be granted an immigrant visa number.The process can take a very long time and there are no guarantees a workerwill get a green card, as they are difficult to get. A worker should be skeptical ofanyone who promises to help her get one quickly and easily.E. A-3 and G-5 Visas 50If a domestic worker is employed by certain officials of international organizationssuch as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, diplomats,embassy personnel, and, in some cases, State Department personnel, her visawill be called an A-3 or G-5 visa.The application for one of those visas must include a contract signedby employer and worker including:◆ A guarantee that the worker will be paid the federal or state minimum wageor prevailing wage, whichever is greater;◆ A promise by the worker not to accept any other employment;◆ A promise by the employer not to confiscate the worker’s passport;◆ A statement by the employer and worker that the worker cannot be requiredto remain at the employer’s house after working hours without pay;◆ An explanation of how much the worker will be paid, as well as howfrequently she will be paid; and◆ A description of the work duties, weekly work hours, holidays, sick days, andvacation days.Different international organizations, such as the U.S. State Department, theWorld Bank and IMF, the United Nations and the Organization of American Statesalso have their own codes of conduct with respect to employment contracts.Generally, these codes of conduct address:◆ Maintaining records of wages paid◆ A prohibition on confiscating workers’ personal property and documents◆ Limitations on deductions that can be made for room and board◆ Payment of overtime◆ Days off◆ Freedom to leave the employer’s home when not working◆ Payment of medical insurance and costsIf a worker feels her contract or working conditions violate her rights under the A-3or G-5 visas, she should consult one of the community organizations listed inAppendix D.26

F. Anti-Trafficking LawsFederal anti-trafficking laws 51Federal law defines “labor trafficking” as forcing someone to work, orrecruiting someone or transporting her to engage in work from anotherlocation by (1) threatening serious harm to, or physical restraint againsther or another person; (2) by making the person believe that she or anotherperson would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or (3) by means ofthe abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerLaw enforcement authorities can seek fines and prison sentences for labor traffickersin criminal court. Federal anti-trafficking law provides trafficking victimswith a private right of action, meaning that trafficking victims may sue theirabusers in civil court.T and U visas for victims of trafficking 52Immigrant victims of trafficking may be eligible for a special type of visa called aT-visa if they cooperate with federal, state or local law enforcement agencies toassist in the investigation or prosecution of trafficking (and meet other eligibilityrequirements). For example, workers who are not paid for their labor, but whoare kept on the job by threats to turn them into immigration authorities or harmthem or their family in some way may be eligible. If successful in obtaining a Tvisa, a worker can remain in the U.S. and obtain employment authorization forthree years, after which the worker may apply for a green card.The U visa provides a similar relief to victims of certain criminal activities ifthey are willing to assist law enforcement or other government officials inthe investigation or prosecution of those crimes. U visa recipients can remainin the U.S., obtain employment authorization, and apply for a green card.Qualifying criminal activities include crimes that are committed by employersin workplaces, such as abusive sexual contact, blackmail, false imprisonment,assault, involuntary servitude, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury,trafficking, witness tampering, unlawful criminal restraint, or other substantiallysimilar criminal activity.New York anti-trafficking laws 53Labor trafficking is a felony crime in New York State. “Labor trafficking” occurswhen a person forces another person to work either by (1) providing her withdrugs; (2) requiring her to repay a fraudulent debt; (3) withholding or destroyingher government identification documents; or (4) compelling her to engage inlabor under threat of physical injury, accusation of criminal conduct, or thethreat of deportation.A victim of labor trafficking may not be prosecuted as an accomplice to the trafficker.The law does not provide a private right of action, which means that thetrafficking victim cannot sue the abuser on her own behalf; only a governmententity can bring a case.27

Rights begin at homeNew Jersey anti-trafficking laws 54Human trafficking is a felony crime in New Jersey law. Human trafficking occurswhen a person forces another person to provide labor or services by threateningbodily harm, criminal coercion, destroying or taking possessions (includingpersonal identifying documents such as immigration-related documents), orabuse or threatened abuse of the law.Connecticut anti-trafficking laws 55Under Connecticut law it is a felony to traffic persons and those subject totrafficking have a right to directly sue their trafficker. Trafficking in persons isdefined as using “coercion” to compel or induce another person to engage inwork.Workers who believe they are victims of trafficking should seek the assistance of anattorney or advocate. See Appendix E: Resources for Trafficking Victims.28

Rights begin at homeIII. Enforcing workers’ rightsThis section will explain several strategies that a worker can pursue to enforceher rights on the job – either one at a time or simultaneously. These rightsinclude the right to be paid for all time worked, the right to breaks, and the rightsto workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. These enforcementstrategies include writing demand letters, filing complaints or claims with stateor federal enforcement agencies, and filing lawsuits against employers.Each strategy differs in terms of the amount of control the worker has over theenforcement process as well as the types of outcomes available. For instance,if a worker goes to a government agency to enforce her rights, agency lawyerswill decide how to complete the investigation and whether or not to bring theclaim before a judge. The assignment of penalties will be largely within thediscretion of the agency’s attorneys or the Attorney General. Alternatively, if aworker goes directly to the courts to enforce her rights, she may have morecontrol over the process but she will have to find her own lawyer.A worker cannot bring a criminal prosecution against her employer on her own– only government authorities may do so.If a worker chooses to take action against an employer to enforce her rights,approaching a worker center or a legal services agency for advice orrepresentation is strongly recommended.See Appendices C and D for lists of legal and community resources in New York,New Jersey, and Connecticut.Whether or not a worker plans on taking action against an employer, andwhatever enforcement strategy she chooses, taking the following steps canhelp her to protect her rights in the future:◆ Putting the terms and conditions of employment in writing, ideally beforestarting to work for an employer. See Appendix F for a sample employmentcontract and Appendix G for a sample confirmation letter.◆ Keeping accurate records of time worked and pay received.See Appendix I for sample work records.◆ Documenting any violations or abuse at the time they occur.A worker should keep all notes and records in a safe place under her control.30

A. Demand lettersDemand letters are sent to employers to notify them that they have violated aworker’s rights. They can be used at any time in the course of a dispute, and areoften a way to begin negotiations to recover unpaid wages or otherwise solvea workplace problem. A demand letter can be sent by a worker, an organizinggroup, and/or an attorney.A typical demand letter includes:n A statement of the law(s) violatedn A summary of the dates and times workedn A request for paymentn A proposed payment plan or meeting to negotiate, andn Follow-up steps including an explanation of the consequences for theemployer if he or she fails to respond.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerSee Appendix H for a sample demand letter.Follow-up Steps to a Demand LetterWorkers and their advocates should be prepared to follow-up a demand letterwith further action if the employer does not respond to the letter or refuses tocomply with the law. Follow-up to a demand letter can vary depending on whosends it. The follow-up can be as simple as saying someone will call theemployer on a given date. A worker should carefully consider what resourcesare available to her, including community and advocacy groups, when proposingfollow-up. Below are examples of possible follow-up steps.Organizing groups can:s Protest at the employer’s home or place of business;s Publicize the employer’s bad acts in the media; and/ors File a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency;Individuals can:s Propose a time, date and place to meet and discuss the claim with theemployer;s File a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency; and/ors File a case in court, either by herself in small claims court or by hiringa private attorney.Whatever steps are chosen, it is important to follow-up. A demand letterwithout follow-up is meaningless and can lead the employer to think aworker is not serious.For more information on legal liability for organizing groups,please see the National Employment Law Project’s“Engaging in Direct Action Campaigns without Getting SLAPP’ed”guide at: http://nelp.3cdn.net/a1eaf7bc861e8d5ae7_kpm6bf4qn.pdf.31

Rights begin at homeB. Legal ActionBefore she brings a claim to a government agency or files a case in court forunpaid wages or other violations of the federal or state labor laws, a workerwill have to decide whether to bring her claim(s) under federal law, state law, orboth. The decision will depend on which law gives the worker better protectionsand/or remedies. The state and federal laws also differ in what level of damagesa worker can recover if she wins.If the worker is bringing action against an employer for a violation that tookplace in the past, she will also have to consider whether the applicable laws’“statute of limitations” allows her to bring a claim at all, and for what timeperiod. A statute of limitations sets the maximum period of time after a violationhas occurred in which legal proceedings can be initiated.See Appendix K for more information on statutes of limitations.1. Filing Complaints with Federal and State AgenciesVarious state and federal agencies have offices in the tri-state area with staffavailable to handle workers’ complaints about unpaid wages and overtime,discrimination or sexual harassment, and workers’ compensation andunemployment insurance claims.a. Violations of Wage and Hour LawsU.S. Department of LaborA worker may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage andHour Division if she is covered by FLSA and her employer paid her less than thefederal minimum wage and/or failed to pay her the required overtime rate, ordid not pay her at all.See Appendix B for a listing of the U.S. Department of Labor offices in the tri-statearea. Workers may bring a lawyer or other advocate with them to the US DOL office.Workers covered by the state minimum wage laws may choose insteadto file a claim at their State Department of Labor.NY, NJ and CT Departments of LaborThe New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Labor Standards, the NewJersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of the Wageand Hour Compliance, and the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Wage andWorkplace Standards Division all help workers to collect underpaid or withheldwages due under state law, including illegal deductions. If a worker decides to32

esolve a dispute with her employer through her state’s DOL, her first step willbe to file a complaint with the Department. If she files the complaint in person,she may bring an advocate with her.If an employer fails to pay a worker after the worker files a complaint, the stateDOL may initiate an investigation and take other steps to reclaim the unpaidwages.See Appendix B for more information on the NY, NJ and CT DOLs, including officeaddresses and telephone numbers.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Workerb. Workers’ CompensationA worker who is injured on the job should first seek medical care if she needsit. She should see a doctor, tell the doctor she was injured at work and ask thedoctor to fill out a medical report. This will help establish a record of the injury.The worker should also notify her employer in writing of her injury and how itoccurred.The worker must then file a claim for workers compensation benefits with herstate’s Workers’ Compensation Board. The claim forms are available on theBoards’ websites. The Board will hold a hearing, where a judge may hear theworker’s testimony and review medial and other evidence. A worker can appealthe judge’s decision if her claim is denied.Workers should take the following additional steps:s Keep a log of all phone calls, medical appointments, treatments, and theimpact of the injury on the worker’s life;s Keep all papers relating to the injury, medical treatment and the claims process;s Keep a calendar noting when forms were filed, dates of medicalappointments, appeals dates, etc.; ands Get medical reports from the doctor.In New York and New Jersey, workers must file their claims within two years ofthe date of the accident to be eligible for benefits. Workers in Connecticut mustfile their claims within one year.New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut workers’ compensation laws providesome protection to injured workers whose employers violate the law by failingto carry workers’ compensation insurance. These programs include a fund toprovide for payment of medical expenses and temporary disability benefits toinjured workers whose employers failed to provide the required workers’ compensationinsurance coverage and who fail or refuse to make workers’ compensationbenefit payments as awarded.See Appendix B for addresses and telephone numbers for the New York,Connecticut and New Jersey Workers’ Compensation offices.33

Rights begin at homec. Unemployment InsuranceFor a summary of basic unemployment insurance requirements,see page 19 of this guide.Generally speaking, a worker who loses her job and meets the eligibilityrequirements for Unemployment Insurance must file an initial claim and thenrequest payments on a weekly basis, usually by phone or on the internet.To file a claim, a worker should have the following available:s Pencil/pen and paper.s Social Security Number.If the worker is not a U.S. citizen, the worker will need an AlienRegistration Documentation issued by the U.S. Citizenship andImmigration Services (USCIS). This includes the alien registration typeand number, country of origin, name, and Employment AuthorizationCard or Permanent Resident Card if authorized to work in the UnitedStates.s Bank information (if the worker intends to have the benefits directly deposited).s Employer information on all employer(s) in the last 18 months including:name, address, telephone number, beginning and end dates of employment, andreason for separation.The UI Division will determine the worker’s entitlement and benefit rate basedon the wages the employer has reported. If the employer reports less wagesthan the worker has actually earned, her benefits rate determination may belower than it should be. And if the employer has failed to report any wages, theworker may be told that she is not eligible for benefits at all.Workers should carefully review the benefits determination from the UI Divisionfor errors and be ready to provide additional information that will help showtheir earnings - even their own informal records. Workers who cannot resolveproblems with the initial determination and are unhappy with the UI ruling mayrequest a hearing. In either event, workers should seek the help of an advocatefamiliar with the UI system.See Appendix B for additional information and phone numbers.2. Going to CourtInstead of filing a complaint with a state or federal agency, a worker owed wagesby her employer may file a lawsuit in court. Workers do not need immigrationdocumentation to take legal action.34

This section does not describe the process for bringing a lawsuit in state orfederal court. The rules for bringing a lawsuit in state or federal court arecomplicated; a worker should consult with an attorney at a legal services officeor at a worker center if she thinks she may want to sue her employer.See Appendix C for additional information on Legal Services Organizations andAppendix D for information on Domestic Workers Groups, including Worker Centers.Small claims court, on the other hand, may be a good alternative for someworkers whose claims are relatively small.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Workera. Small Claims CourtSmall claims proceedings are intended to provide a low-cost, simplified, andinformal procedure for individuals to resolve disputes involving smaller amountsof money. People who file complaints in Small Claims courts often do not use anattorney in these matters and are not required to do so – they are called “pro se”litigants – but workers may want to consult an advocate for advice beforedeciding to file a complaint.For more information, see the “Plaintiff’s Guide to Small Claims Court,”available on the National Employment Law Project website athttp://www.nelp.org/page/-/Justice/2010/AssistingNYSmallClaims.pdf?nocdn=1.New York small claims courtIn New York City, a worker with a claim for $5000 or less may file her claimin the Small Claims Court. The Small Claims court for New York County islocated, along with the New York City Civil Courts, at 111 Centre Street,New York, NY 10013.Outside of New York City, a worker with a claim of $3,000 or less can bring anaction in the Town and Village courts.See http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/townandvillage/for additional court locations outside of New York City.In order to begin an action in small claims court, a worker must file a complaintform. This form can be filed through the mail or in person with the clerk in thecounty in which the case will be filed.35

Rights begin at homeA complaint must:◆ Provide the worker’s full name, address, and telephone number.◆ Provide the correct name(s) and address(es) of the employer.◆ State the amount of money for which the worker is suing.◆ State the reason why the employer owes the worker money.◆ Contain a signed and completed form.◆ Include payment of the correct filing and service fees.Workers in New York City can also visit the Civil Court’s Resource Center andmeet with a “Pro Se Attorney” for free. Pro Se Attorneys, also called ResourceCenter Attorneys, are attorneys employed by the Civil Court who provide legaland procedural information to self-represented litigants. They cannot providespecific legal advice.For information on filing the complaint please see theSmall Claims court website at:http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/nyc/smallclaims/index.shtml.New Jersey small claims court and the Special Civil PartIn New Jersey, a worker with a claim for money damages of $3,000 or less mayfile her claim in the Small Claims Court. Workers who bring an action in SmallClaims court cannot recover more than $3,000 or raise additional claims at alater time concerning the same issue.In order to begin an action, a worker must file a Small Claims complaint form.This form can be filed through the mail or in person with the Clerk of the SpecialCivil Part in the county in which the case will be filed.A complaint must:◆ Provide the worker’s full name, address, and telephone number.◆ Provide the correct name(s) and address(es) of the employer.◆ State the amount of money for which the worker is suing.◆ State the reason why the employer owes the worker money.◆ State whether at the present time there is any other case involving theemployer and worker and, if so, the name of the court.◆ Include payment of applicable filing and service fees.◆ Contain a signed and completed form.For information on filing the complaint, see the Small Claims court FAQwebsite at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/civil/civ-02.htm.New Jersey also provides forms and kits on their website to assistworkers representing themselves in court at:http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/prose/index.htm.36

Special Civil PartThe process for filing a complaint in the Special Civil Part Court is similar to theprocess for filing in Small Claims court, but the threshold for claims is higher:the Special Civil Part is designed specifically for individuals with claims of$15,000 or less.For information on filing the complaint, and to download the smallclaims form, see the Special Civil Part website athttp://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/civil/civ-03.htm.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerConnecticut small claims courtA worker with a claim for money damages less than $5,000 can file inConnecticut’s Small Claims Court.A worker may start a Small Claims case by filing the “Small Claims Writ andNotice of Suit” Form. This form may be filed at the Centralized Small ClaimsOffice or at the small claims area where:1) The plaintiff resides; or,2) The defendant resides or conducts business; or,3) The transaction or injury occurred.For more information about Small Claims Court, and to download thesmall claims form, visit the Small Claims website at:http://www.jud.state.ct.us/faq/smallclaims.html#q2.b. Court CostsIf a worker feels that she cannot afford the court filing fee and service costs, shecan apply to have the fees waived. The courts may provide a waiver if she canshow that her income falls below a certain level, if she receives public benefits,or if the court costs will cause her significant financial hardship.New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all permit low-income claimants to applyfor “poor person status,” or “indigent” status, in order to have filing fees waived.Forms and instructions are available at the following websites:New York: http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/6jd/forms/SRForms/index.shtmlNew Jersey: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/civil/forms/11208_filingfeewaivreq.pdfConnecticut: http://www.jud2.ct.gov/webforms/forms/fm075.pdf37

Rights begin at homeC. Protection from RetaliationBoth federal and state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against workerswho complain about violations of wage and hour protections.Federal anti-retaliation law 56Federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who fileformal complaints or lawsuits, or give testimony to enforce their rights. Federalappeals courts are divided as to whether the FLSA anti-retaliation clause coversindividuals who make only verbal complaints to their employers. Because thelaw is unsettled at this stage, workers receive the greatest protection under thelaw when they file formal complaints in writing (and workers may want to seekthe advice of a worker center when they do so).New York anti-retaliation law 57New York law prohibits employers from firing, punishing, or discriminatingagainst a worker for complaining to her employer or to the Department of Laborfor labor disputes including but not limited to failure to make minimum wageand/or overtime payments. It is also illegal for employers to retaliate against aworker because she has filed a claim against the employer or is testifying in alawsuit.New Jersey anti-retaliation law 58New Jersey law prohibits employers from firing or otherwise retaliating againstworkers who complain to their employers or to the Department of Labor aboutminimum wage or overtime violations. Employers are similarly prohibited fromretaliating against a worker who institutes a proceeding against her employerfor minimum wage and/or overtime violations.Connecticut anti-retaliation law 59Connecticut law prohibits employers from firing, disciplining, or otherwisepenalizing a worker if the worker or someone acting on the worker’s behalf filesa claim against the employer. The law also prohibits employers from retaliatingagainst workers for testifying in lawsuits or instituting investigations.38

Rights begin at homeIV. Tips for finding work and negotiating with an employerThis section provides advice to workers seeking a job, such as how to respondto ads, whether to use an employment agency, how to approach an interviewwith a prospective employer, how to negotiate payment, and what informationto obtain in writing.A. Finding WorkTo find a job as a domestic worker, some workers call an agency, answer anewspaper ad, search or advertise on a neighborhood parents’ listserv, or call aperson suggested by a friend.1. Tips for Workers Responding To an AdWhen you call in response to an ad, an employer will often want to set up ameeting time rather than talk for a long time on the phone.Things to remember when responding to an advertisement:u Cut out and save the ad.u Tell someone where the interview is, when you’re going and whenyou expect to come back. In fact, try to get someone to go with youto the interview.u Bring a notebook and pen to take notes.u Ask the employer to pay for travel expenses to and from the interview.2. Employment AgenciesEmployment agencies maintain lists of employers who are looking for domestichelp. The agency receives a commission from the employer for each domesticworker it places.Fees: If you use an agency, try to find one that does not charge you a fee. If youcan’t find an agency that does not charge a fee, then be sure that the agencydoes not charge more than the law allows.New York law on employment agencies 60New York law regulates employment agencies that provide job placementservices for domestic workers and places some limits on the fee that agenciesmay charge. Agencies must provide workers and potential employers with awritten statement of the worker’s rights and employer obligations under stateand federal law, including a general description of employee rights and employerobligations pursuant to laws regarding minimum wage, overtime and hoursof work, record keeping, social security payments, unemployment insurancecoverage, disability insurance coverage and workers’ compensation.40

Agencies must also provide job applicants with a written statement explainingthe “nature and terms of employment, including the name and address of theperson to whom the applicant is to apply for such employment, the name andaddress of the person authorizing the hiring for such position, wages, hours ofwork, the kind of services to be performed and agency fee.”An agency in New York may not charge a worker more than:n 10% of the worker’s first full month’s salary if the employer does not providemeals or lodgingn 12% of the worker’s first full month’s salary if one meal per day is providedn 14% of the worker’s first full month’s salary if two meals per day are providedn 18% of the worker’s first full month’s salary if three meals and lodging are providedProtecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerThe courts have found that the New York Human Rights Law applies toemployment agencies, and therefore agencies may not discriminate in theirhiring process.New Jersey law on employment agencies 61New Jersey employment agencies are permitted to charge workers a fee. Wherethe worker is discharged without cause or where the worker quits for just cause,she may not be charged more than one percent of the total fee for each dayworked, and she is entitled to a refund of any additional money she has alreadypaid.Connecticut law on employment agencies 62An employment agency in Connecticut can charge a worker a fee for findingemployment. If the worker pays the placement fee to the agency and does notremain in that position for more than ten weeks, however, the employmentagency must refund a portion of the fees paid by the worker. The worker isentitled to a refund or adjustment of that part of the fee paid or owing which isgreater than ten percent of the amount she has received in wages for that employment.41

Rights begin at homeB. The Interview with the EmployerThe way the employer treats you during the interview can give you an idea ofthe type of employer she/he will be. In order to protect yourself, it is importantto clarify as many things as possible about the nature of the job and workingconditions in advance. Try to take notes on the employer’s responses to yourquestions during or soon after the interview.SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR WORKERS? What would my responsibilities be? Am I expected to do babysitting andhousekeeping, only babysitting, or only housekeeping?? If they say, “light housekeeping,” ask them to specify.? How many people are in the household?? Do you have pets? If so, will I be expected to care for them?? How many employees are in the home and what are their responsibilities?? Am I expected to go with you when you travel? If not, will I be paid when youare away?? Am I the first person in this position?? Why did the last babysitter/housekeeper leave? How long did she work for you?? Will I have regular days off?? What time will my work day begin, and what time will it end?? How will I take my meals? Can I bring my lunch?? Do you pay overtime after an 8 hour day?? How much advance notice do you give when overtime is required?? How many residences do you have?? Do you provide paid sick leave? If so, can I rest assured that my right to takesick leave won’t be unreasonably denied?? How much paid vacation time will I have?? When will I be eligible for a raise?? Do you pay transportation costs? If I work late, do you pay for taxi fare home?? Do you pay for workers’ compensation insurance?For an example of a Standard contract, see Appendix F.If you will live-in? Where will I sleep? Is it heated? Am I expected to sleep in the same roomas the child?? How will I take my meals? Is there a meal allowance?? Will my access to phone and mail be limited in any way?? How much notice to move out will you give me if you no longer needmy services?42

Rights begin at homeThings to Bring to the Interviewu A notebook and a pen to write down what the employer tells the workerabout the job. It is important to keep a record of anything that the employertells the worker about the work they will be doing, how much and how oftenthey will be paid, etc.Warning Signals✖ The employer will not let a friend come with you to the interview.✖ The employer avoids your questions.✖ The employer increases responsibilities in the course of the conversation.✖ The employer comments on your English.✖ The employer does not want to make a commitment to your demandsright away.✖ The employer makes racist or sexist comments.✖ The employer asks you to sign a document that waives your right to minimumwage or overtime compensation. These rights cannot be waived. Even ifthe worker signs such a document, her employer must pay the minimumwage and overtime compensation.Personal QuestionsMost personal questions are irrelevant and inappropriate. In some contexts,questions like these are illegal. Sometimes, an employer asks these questionsto try to get to know you. Other times, an employer may use these questions todiscriminate against you. If you don’t want to answer a question, you can askthe employer whether it is related to a job requirement.u How old are you?u Are you married? Do you have a boyfriend?u Where is your family?u Do you have any kids? Do you plan to have kids soon?u Where are you from?u Do you have any disabilities or health problems?u Can you read English?u Are you comfortable answering phone calls?u How long have you been in the U.S.?Questions About Your Immigration Status✖ Are you a citizen?✖ Do you have a green card?These are inappropriate questions. Employers do not need to ask you aboutyour immigration status during an interview. An employer only needs to knowwhether you are authorized to work in this country.44

Important Questions about Agencies:n Does the agency send someone to go with you to the interviewwith the employer?n Does the agency pay for transportation to the interview withthe employer?n Does the employment agency do any background check on employersor take any steps to make sure that the household is safe?n Does the agency provide you with a written job description, showingthe name and address of the employer, wages, hours of work, the kindsof services they will perform, and the fees the agency will charge?n The agency will have a service agreement with the employer.Ask to see it.n Does the employment agency have a list of comments by pastemployees giving the reasons they left the employer?n Is there a contract that the agency wants you to sign?What does signing it mean?n Does the employer pay you directly, or does the agency pay you?n How long does a worker have to remain with an employer before theagency gets its full commission?n Does the employment agency inform employers about their obligationto pay into Social Security, workers’ compensation, and unemploymentinsurance?n Does the employment agency have a complaint system for workerswhose employers are abusive (e.g. by not paying overtime or notallowing a worker a day of rest)?n Will the agency help such workers find a new placement?Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerBe on the lookout for:u Agencies that don’t let you take the contract home to review it,or don’t give you adequate time to read the contract.u Agencies that insist on receiving your wages from the employerand then paying them to you.u Requests to hand over a passport or other documents.u Agencies that charge you a commission for placing you.u Agencies that do not find out about your skills before sending youto an interview.45

C. Negotiating PaymentIt is helpful for workers to compare the salary they are offered with the salariesof other employees who do the same work. Advocacy groups may providestandard wage rate schedules for workers to reference. At the least, workersshould talk to advocacy groups and other workers to find out the standard ratesin their area.Domestic workers are commonly paid in cash. Payment in cash makes iteasier for the employer to avoid paying for unemployment insurance, workers’compensation, and Social Security, which means that it will be harder for theworker to prove their eligibility for benefits if they need them. With paychecks,the employer creates a record of pay, which could be useful in the event of awage dispute.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerD. What a Worker Should Get in WritingIt is important to put the terms and conditions of your employment in writing toensure that you and your employer have understood each other correctly. Bothspoken and written agreements are enforceable in court. For example, if youmake an oral agreement with your employer to be paid a certain hourly rateabove the minimum wage, and the employer later refuses to pay what she orhe promised, you may be able to bring a claim for a breach of oral agreement.However, a contract signed by both you and your employer will be even strongerevidence if you have go to court.The contract, or agreement, should include the following:n Hours and base wagen Daily work schedulen Holidays and vacation time (including any restrictions on when you can takepaid time off)n Personal days and sick daysn Health benefitsn Length of employment or how much notice must be given to terminate thecontract.Workers should take the time they need to read through the contract and makesure they understand the contract terms before signing.See Appendix F for a model contract.47

Rights begin at homeIn presenting the model contract to your employer, here are somethings you can say:“Domestic workers and their employers are using this agreement throughout NewYork City (or New Jersey or Connecticut). I thought it would be helpful for us to use itas well.”“This is an example of what an agreement for this kind of work might look like.We can make changes to it or draft our own. Just read through it, and then we candiscuss any parts you are not comfortable with.”If you cannot get a contract, ask your employer to give you a signedconfirmation letter with the same information. This can also be enforced incourt.See Appendix G for a sample confirmation letter.If you cannot get a confirmation letter, write down everything that you andyour employer have agreed to, date it, and keep it in a safe place.48

Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerAPPENDICES49

Rights begin at homeAPPENDIX A:Income Tax ResourcesTRI-ST<strong>AT</strong>E TAX RESOURCESVolunteer Income Tax Assistor (VITA)If you make under $40,000, volunteer tax specialists can help you file your taxes. VITA programs are available across the country.To find a VITA clinic near you, call 1-800-906-9887 (English/Spanish).Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC)Provides free legal advice to low-income taxpayers across the country who have a dispute with the IRS or the State Department ofTaxation and Finance.LITC has sites in each of the 5 boroughs in New York City. Depending on the location, many LITCs can assist you in multiple languages.To find an LITC in your city or state, go to http://www.irs.gov/advocate and choose “Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics.”Or call IRS Customer Service at 1-800-829-1040 (English/Spanish).NEW YORKNY Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)Brooklyn:Bedford-Stuyvesant LITC: 718-636-1155. Languages spoken: Spanish/Haitian/ChineseBrooklyn Low Income Taxpayer Clinic: 718-237-5528. Languages spoken: Spanish/140 other languages.Manhattan:Fordham Law School Tax Litigation Clinic: 212-636-7353. Languages spoken: SpanishNew York Legal Aid Society LITC: 212-426-3013. Languages spoken: Spanish/ChineseBronx:718-928-3700 Languages spoken: EnglishJamaica:Queens Legal Services Corporation: 718-657-8611 and 347-592-2178. Languages spoken: Chinese/Creole/Hindi/Korean/ Russian/Spanish/UrduFlushing:MinKwon Center for Community Action: 718-460-5560 and 718-460-5600. Languages spoken: Korean.NEW JERSEYNJ Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)Edison: Taxpayers Legal Assistance Program: 1-888-576-5529 or 732-575-9100. Languages spoken: Spanish/French/Creole/19 otherlanguages.Jersey City: Northeast New Jersey Legal Services: 201-792-6363. Languages spoken: Spanish/Tagalog/Korean.Bridgeton: South Jersey Legal Services: 1-800-496-4570 or 856-691-0494. Languages spoken: SpanishTax Legal Assistance Project (TLAP)Provides advice and legal representation in tax matters to low-income taxpayers. Call 1-888-576-5529.NJ Tax Court Forms: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/taxcourt/index.htmCONNECTICUTCT Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)Hamden: Quinnipiac University School of Law LITC: 203-582-3238. Languages spoken: Spanish/ Other languages as arranged.Hartford: University of Connecticut School of Law Tax Clinic: 860-570-5165. Languages spoken: SpanishConnecticut Department of Revenue Services25 Sigourney Street Ste 2Hartford, CT 06106-5032Phone: 860-297-5962 • http://www.ct.gov/drs/cwp/view.asp?a=1462&q=271504Community Accounting Aid & Services, Inc.Provides assistance with tax preparation and conducts tax clinics for low income individuals.965 East Main StreetMeriden, CT 06450Phone: 203-235-2333 x7146 • E-mail: ctcaas@hotmail.com50

APPENDIX B:Federal and State Government OfficesYou have a right to access government agencies, and can ask for a translator if you need help in a language that is not listed.In general, you should call and ask for an appointment before you go, and ask what kind of ID you will need to show to getinto the building.You should not be asked about your immigration status. Seek assistance from a trusted community organization before providingany information about your immigration status.NEW YORK FEDERAL AND ST<strong>AT</strong>E GOVERNMENT OFFICESProtecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerWage/HourUS Department of Labor, Wage and Hour DivisionThis agency enforces federal minimum wage and overtime laws.26 Federal Plaza, Suite 3700New York, NY 10278Phone: 212-264-8185A number of government agencies are located at 26 Federal Plaza, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If youhave any concerns, you can ask if there are locations other than 26 Federal Plaza where you could meet with a representativeof the Wage and Hour Division.US Dept. of Labor, Wage & Hour Division1-866-4-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243) (English and Spanish)Brooklyn Area Office625 Fulton Street, 7th FloorBrooklyn, NY 11201Phone: 718-254-9410Long Island District Office1400 Old Country RoadSuite 410Westbury, NY 11590-5119Phone: 516-338-1890Hudson Valley Area Office140 Grand StreetSuite 304White Plains, NY 10601Phone: 914-682-6348New York State Department of Labor, Division of Labor StandardsThis state agency enforces state minimum wage and overtime laws.New York City District Office75 Varick StreetNew York, NY 10013Phone: 212-775-3880Claims for unpaid wages can be submitted to:NYS DOLDivision of Labor StandardsState Campus, Bldg 12, Room 185BAlbany, NY 12240Phone: 518-457-979651

Rights begin at homeNew York State Attorney General’s Office, Labor BureauThis office enforces New York State’s labor laws, including the right to minimum wage, the right to receive payment of wages andfringe benefits, and the right to workers compensation and disability benefits.120 Broadway, 26th FloorNew York, New York 10271Phone: 212-416-8700 (English and Spanish)nWorkers’ Compensation:cash benefits and/or medical care for workers with job-related injuries or illnesses.Advocate for Injured Workers:The Advocate for Injured Workers, helps injured and sick individuals navigate the state workers’ compensation system.The Advocate has a toll-free number (800-580-6665) and offices in Albany (518-474-8182, FAX 518- 486-7510) andBrooklyn (718-802-6664).To file the Employee Claim (C-3) form:n Complete the form online by going to: www.wcb.state.ny.us, click on “Workers,” and thenclick on “File a Claim” and follow the instructions.n Or call 877-632-4996 (English, Spanish and translation services for all other languages) for helpfilling out the form over the phone or to have it mailed to you.n Or fill out a paper copy of the form by visiting any Customer Service Center or District Office.To locate the district office near you, call 877-632-4996 orgo to http://www.nycosh.org/workers_comp/compensation.htmlNYC Workers’ Compensation Board NYC District Offices:Brooklyn District Office (serves Brooklyn, Staten Island)111 Livingston Street, 2nd FloorBrooklyn, NY 11248Manhattan District Office (serves Manhattan, Bronx)215 W. 125th StreetNew York, NY 10027Queens District Office (serves Queens)168-46 91st AvenueJamaica, NY 11432nUnemployment Insurance ClaimsTo file a claim online, visit https://ui.labor.state.ny.us/UBC/index.jsp (available in English and Spanish). Or call the TelephoneClaims Center at: 888-209-8124 (English, Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Creole, or translation servicesfor all other languages). You must be work-authorized to recover unemployment benefits.For each week a worker is claiming benefits, she must request payment using the web or telephone system.Both systems are available in Spanish.To claim weekly benefits:n Visit the Department of Labor’s website at www.labor.ny.gov, click on“Unemployment Assistance,” and then click on “Claim Weekly Benefits.”n Or call: (888) 209-8124 to request benefits over the phone.52

NEW JERSEY FEDERAL AND ST<strong>AT</strong>E GOVERNMENT OFFICESWage/Hour:US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour DivisionNJ District Office Locations:Northern New Jersey District Office200 Sheffield Street, Room 102Mountainside, New Jersey 07092Phone: (908) 317-8611Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerSouthern New Jersey District Office3131 Princeton Pike, Bldg. 5, Room 216Lawrenceville, New Jersey 08648Phone: (609) 538-8310New Jersey Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Wage and Hour ComplianceThis office enforces New Jersey’s labor laws, including the right to minimum wage and overtime, and the right toreceive payment of wages and fringe benefits.1 John Fitch PlazaTrenton, New Jersey 08625-0110Phone: (609) 292-2305 or (609) 292-2337For mailing or faxing wage and hour claims:Division of Wage and Hour ComplianceP.O. Box 389Trenton, NJ 08625-0389Fax: (609) 695-1174A worker who lives in New Jersey or works in New Jersey should file a MW-31A form in English or MW-31S in Spanish.These forms are available at: http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/wagehour/complnt/complaint_forms.htmlnWorkers’ Compensation:cash benefits and/or medical care for workers with job-related injuries or illnesses.Initial applications for Workers’ Compensation in New Jersey should be mailed to:State of New JerseyDepartment of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Workers’ CompensationP.O. Box 381Trenton, NJ 08625-0381Phone: (609) 292-2515Newark District office: serves Essex County124 Halsey Street, 2nd floorNewark, New Jersey 07101-0226Phone: (973) 648-2663For a list of all Worker’s Compensation district offices, please visit:http://www.wcb.state.ny.us/content/main/DistrictOffices/MainPage.jsp53

Rights begin at homeUnemployment Insurance ClaimsThere are two ways to apply for unemployment benefits:n You can apply online at http://njsuccess.dol.state.nj.us/html/uimain.htmln Or you can apply by phone through a call center. In order to find out which center serves your area, call (609) 292-7162.Workers who live in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Passaic or Union Counties but commute to work in New York andare looking for new work in New York must file an unemployment claim by telephone with the State of New York at1-888-209-8124.CONNECTICUT FEDERAL AND ST<strong>AT</strong>E GOVERNMENT OFFICESWage/Hour:US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour DivisionCT District Office Locations:Hartford Connecticut District Office135 High Street, Room 210Hartford, Connecticut 06103-1111Phone: 860-263-6000New Haven Connecticut Area Office150 Court Street, Room 423New Haven, Connecticut 06510Phone: 203-773-2249Connecticut Department of Labor, Wage and Workplace Standards DivisionThis office enforces Connecticut’s labor laws, including the right to minimum wage and overtime, and the right to receivepayment of wages and fringe benefits.For additional information about filing a wage claim in Connecticut go to:http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/forms/wca1intr.htmHartford Connecticut District Office135 High Street, Room 210Hartford, Connecticut 06103-1111Phone: 860-240-4160New Haven Connecticut Area Office150 Court Street, Room 423New Haven, Connecticut 06510Phone: 203-773-2249Workers’ Compensation:cash benefits and/or medical care for workers with job-related injuries or illnesses.To find out which office to visit, call 1.800.223.9675 or go to: http://wcc.state.ct.us/wcc/dist-ct.htmUnemployment Insurance ClaimsTo apply for Unemployment Insurance, visit: https://iic.ctdol.state.ct.us/welcome.aspx or visit http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/progsupt/unemplt/tele-benphone.htm to find the call center in your area.Additional information on claiming unemployment benefits in Connecticut is available at:http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/progsupt/unemplt/claimant-guide/uc-288.pdf54

APPENDIX CLegal Services & Law FirmsNEW YORK LEGAL SERVICES OFFICESwww.lawhelp.org/NY (English and Spanish)Provides helpful know-your-rights guides to workplace issues including unemployment insurance, overtime, and wage andhour. You can also find contact information and locations for legal services near you.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerVolunteers of Legal Service (VOLS)Unemployment Insurance Advocacy ProjectThe VOLS Unemployment Insurance Advocacy Project provides free legal services to individuals who have lost their jobs andsubsequently have been denied unemployment insurance benefits.Phone: 347-521-5720Email: info@volsprobono.orgWeb site: www.volsprobono.orgMFY Legal Services Workplace Justice ProjectProvides legal advice and representation on unpaid wage claims, health and safety violations, employment discrimination,and minimum wage and overtime violations.Call 212-417-3838 on Monday & Tuesday, 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm.Legal Aid Society: Employment Law ProjectCall 212-577-3300 (English, Spanish)for information about legal services and locations.Legal Services for New York CityCall 212-431-7200 for legal advice or to find the office nearest you.New York Legal Assistance GroupTo reach the legal hotline, call 212-613-5000, ext. 3.Workers’ Rights Law Center Of New York, Inc.101 Hurley Ave., Suite 5Kingston, New York 12401Call 845-331-6615 for information about legal services.Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)99 Hudson Street, 12th FloorNew York, NY 10013Phone: 212-966-5932Languages: Mandarin, CantoneseNEW JERSEY LEGAL SERVICES OFFICESLegal Services of New JerseyLegal Hotline at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529)100 Metroplex Drive, Suite 402P.O. Box 1357Edison, NJ 08818-1357LSNJ also has a website with helpful resources for many legal issues. Go to www.lsnjlaw.org.55

Rights begin at homeCONNECTICUT LEGAL SERVICES OFFICESConnecticut Legal Services1-800-453-3320860-344-0380Between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and between 9:00 am and 4:00 pmon Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.http://www.connlegalservices.org/Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Inc.999 Asylum Ave., 3rd FloorHartford, CT 06105-2465Phone: 860-541-5000Fax: 860-541-5050Email: ghla@ghla.orghttp://www.ghla.org/Languages: English and SpanishNew Haven Legal Assistance Association, Inc.426 State StreetNew Haven, Connecticut 06510-2018Phone: 203-946-4811Fax: 203-498-9271Email: legalaid@nhlegal.orgLanguages: English and SpanishWorker & Immigrant Rights Clinic of Yale Law SchoolJerome N. Frank Legal Services OrganizationP.O. Box 209090New Haven, CT 06520-9090Phone: 203-432-4800Fax: 203-432-1426Languages: English, Spanish, and FrenchConnecticut Network for Legal AidThis website is a joint project of all Connecticut’s legal aid programs and has helpful tools and resources:http://www.ctnla.org.Often the best way to find legal advice or representation is to work with a non-profit legal services organizationbecause they do not charge for their services. However, some firms and private attorneys will take a case on acontingency basis, which means that they will charge a fee only if the lawsuit is successful.If you are seeking a lawyer to represent you, contacting some of the non-profit organizations listed above is the best way tofind legal aid that is free. But if you cannot find an organization to take your case, you may want to contact a lawyer affiliatedwith the National Employment Lawyers Association, a network of lawyers who represent workers in employment cases.You can find a NELA member near you through a search on the NELA website: http://www.nela.org.Another option is Outten and Golden, an employment law firm with offices in New York City and Connecticut.Outten and Golden LLP3 Park Avenue 29th FloorNew York, New York 10016Telephone: (212) 245-1000Fax: 212-977-400Connecticut office:191 Post Road WestWestport, CT 06880Telephone: (203) 363-7888Fax: 203-363-033356

APPENDIX D:Domestic Workers Goups & Worker CentersNEW YORKDomestic Workers United1201 Broadway Suite 907- 908New York, NY 10001Phone: 718-220-7391 ext. 11 or 23Email: domesticworkersunited@gmail.comWebsite: www.domesticworkersunited.orgLanguages: Spanish, FrenchnAdhikaar71-07 Woodside Avenue 1st FlWoodside, NY 11377Phone: 718-937-1117Email: adhikaar@gmail.comWebsite: http://www.adhikaar.org/Languages: Nepali, EnglishnAndolan:Organizing South Asian WorkersP.O. Box 720364Jackson Heights, NY 11372Phone: 718-426-2774Email: andolan_organizing@yahoo.comLanguages: Bengali, Hindi, UrdunCAAAV2473 Valentine AvenueBronx, NY 10458Phone: 718-220-7391 ext. 12Email: justice@caaav.orgLanguages: Khmer, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Fujianese, CantonesenCidadao Global394 Broadway, 5th FlNew York, NY 10013Astoria33-11 36th AvenueAstoria, NY 11106Phone: 718-619-8529Email: Info@cidadaoglobal.orgWebsite: www.cidadaoglobal.orgLanguages: Portuguese, EnglishDAMAYANMigrant Workers Associationc/o Metro Baptist Church406 W. 40th Street, 2nd FlNew York, NY 10018Phone: 212-564-6057Email: contact@damayanmigrants.orgLanguages: English,TagalognEl Centro del Inmigrante1546 Castleton AveStaten Island, NY 10302Phone: 718-420-6466Email: info@elcentronyc.orgWebsite: http://elcentronyc.org/Languages: English, SpanishnHaitian Women for Haitian Refugees319 Maple StreetBrooklyn, NY 11225Phone: 718-735-4660Email: haitianwomen@aol.comWebsite: http://haitianwomen.wordpress.com/nWorkers AWAAZ4026 82nd StreetElmhurst, NY 11373Phone: 718-565-0801Email: workersawaaz@yahoo.comLanguages: Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, PunjabinWorkplace Project/ Unity Housecleaners91 North Franklin Street, Suite 207Hempstead, NY 11550Phone: 516-656-5377Languages: SpanishProtecting Yourself as a Domestic Worker57

Rights begin at homeNEW JERSEYCasa FreeholdPhone: 732-492-4766Email: gemgavriel@yahoo.comnC<strong>AT</strong>A: El Comite de Apoyo a Los Trabajadores Agricolas(The Farmworker Support Committee)P.O. Box 510Glassboro, NJ 08028Phone: 856-881-2027Email: cata@cata-farmworkers.orgnNew Labor103 Bayard Street, 2nd FlNew Brunswick, NJ 08901Phone: 732-246-2900Email: info@newlabor.netLanguages: SpanishnUnited Labor Agency of Bergen County Day Laborer Project205 Robin Road, Ste. 106Paramus, NJ 07652Phone: 201-967-5953Email: ULA@BergenCLC.orgnWind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center19 Market StreetMorristown, NJ 07960Phone: 973-538-2035Email: windofthespirit@verizon.netCONNECTICUTConnectiCOSH683 North Mountain RoadNewington, CT 06111Phone: 860-953-COSH (2674)Email: Connecticosh@snetnetnHART’s Immigrant Rights Committee423 Washington StreetHartford, CT 06106Phone: 860-525-3449Email: glenda.aponte@hartofhartford.orgnJUNTA for Progressive Action, Inc.169 Grand AvenueNew Haven, CT 06513Phone: 203-787-0191Fax: 203-787-4934Languages: Spanish58

APPENDIX EResources for Victims of TraffickingThe National Human Trafficking Resource Center24 Hour Toll-Free Hotline: 1-888-373-7888Website: http://nhtrc.polarisproject.org/The New York Anti-Trafficking Network is a network of service providers andadvocates in New York dedicated to ending human trafficking and coordinating resources for trafficked persons.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerSee the website for more information and links to the websites of member groups, at:http://nyatn.wordpress.com/ and http://nyatn.wordpress.com/nyatn-links/The New York City Resource DirectorySee http://www.nyc.gov/html/endht/html/home/home.shtmlfor general information andhttp://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/downloads/2009_human_trafficking_resource_directory_8_10_09.pdf for a listing of serviceproviders.The Freedom Network (USA) lists service providers in several states.http://www.freedomnetworkusa.org/members/index.php59

Rights begin at homeAPPENDIX FSample Standard Emloyment ContractDomestic Workers UnitedStandard Employment Contract for Domestic Workers in New YorkThis contract is for full time domestic workers.This contract was made between ________________________ (the employer) and_________________________ (the employee) on _______________ (date) and has the following terms of employment:1. The employee shall be employed beginning on _______________ (date).2. The employee shall work at employer’s residence at ___________________________________________ .3. The employee is live-in / live-out (circle one).4. State number of children to be cared for: __________Description of children (age, gender, activities, etc.) ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________5. Work Responsibilities:Job entails the following:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Job does not entail the following:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________6. The employee shall not be required to work for any person other than the employer.7. Employer shall pay employee $ ________ per week, not including overtime. The normal rate of pay is $________ per hour.Overtime rate of pay is $________ per hour.8. The work week shall be 40 (live-out work) or 44 (live-in work) hours.• In accordance with state and federal labor laws, employee shall be compensated one and a half times the normalrate of pay for every hour worked beyond 40 (live-out work) or 44 (live-in work) hours.• Sleepovers for live-out worker shall be compensated at an additional rate of $ __________ per day.• Employee cannot be required to work more than __________ hours per week.9. Employee shall receive her/his weekly wages every __________ (day of the week) at __________ am/pm.10. Employer shall pay a penalty of __________ % for every day that the employee’s wages are paid late.11. Both employer and employee shall have a signed record of the payment of wages.12. Employer shall provide a letter of reference at the end of the first year and at the end of each subsequent year of employment.13. Domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to illness due to constant exposure to illness or toxic cleaning agents. Theemployer shall provide medical insurance for the employee. Alternatively, employer agrees to cover the cost of regular annualcheckups and OB/GYN exams, as well as the cost of emergency medical treatment when the employee is ill or injured.14. Employer who lives on the outskirts of New York City or in suburban areas such as Westchester County, New Jersey, and LongIsland shall cover the cost of transportation to and from work.• Employer shall cover the cost of a taxi ride home when employee works past eight in the evening.60

15. Upon completion of six months of employment, employee shall receive __________ weeks of paid vacation annually.• The timing of the vacation shall be determined by the employee. The employer cannot require employee totake her/his vacation to coincide with that of the employer.• If the contract is terminated before the employee takes her/his vacation, the employee shall be paid for the abovenumber of weeks at the time of termination.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Worker16. Employee shall receive, with pay, the following eight nationally observed holidays:a. New Year’s Dayb. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthdayc. President’s Dayd. Memorial Daye. Independence Dayf. Thanksgivingg. Labor Dayh. Christmas Day• Employee shall also receive an additional religious/cultural holiday of her/his affiliation: ________________(e.g. Good Friday, Lunar New Year)In the event that the employee agrees to work on any of these holidays, s/he will be compensated one-and-a-half timesthe normal rate for each hour worked.17. Employee shall receive __________ paid sick days.• At the end of the year, the employee shall be paid for the above number of sick days if those days were not taken.In addition, employee is entitled to __________ paid personal days.• At the end of the year, the employee shall be paid for the above number of personal days if those days were not taken.18. Employee shall receive one month of maternity leave, of which __________ weeks shall be paid. Employment shall notbe terminated under this provision if employee can resume employment after the month of maternity leave.19. Employee is entitled to periodic breaks throughout the day, including meal breaks.• Child care worker may take these breaks when the child(ren) is/are sleeping or otherwise safe.20. Employer and employee agree to the following food arrangement:____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________21. Employee shall have access to employer’s phones for necessary local calls during the work day.• Live-in worker shall have free, private, and reasonable access to employer’s phones.22. Lodging (for live-in domestic workers only): Employer shall provide private, suitable and furnished accommodationfor the employee free of charge, with adequate heat, ventilation, and light. Employee shall have full access to use of thekitchen and a bathroom.23. Employer agrees to notify employee should workplace be under electronic surveillance. Surveillance shall not extendto bathrooms.• Live-in worker’s private room(s) shall not be subject to surveillance.24. Employer and employee shall make good faith efforts to discuss and resolve any conflicts arising under this contract.61

Rights begin at home25. Either party may terminate the contract by giving three weeks’ notice.• The employer may give three weeks’ pay in lieu of notice to terminate the contract.• After one year of employment, the employer must provide one week salary as severance pay.One additional week severance shall be paid for every year of work.26. Employee is entitled to a raise of at least __________ % every year.27. Any addition to the family reflects a significant change in the job description. For this reason, for each additional child,employer shall compensate employee with a raise in salary of $ __________ per week.28. If the employer would like the employee to travel with them, this must be mutually agreed upon and shall becompensated at an additional rate of $ __________ per day, in addition to paying for travel and other incidentalexpenses related to the trip. Employee shall be provided their own accommodations for the trip.29. Employer understands that workers are protected by labor laws, regardless of race, gender, immigration status or age.Date ______________Signed by the EmployerName of EmployerSigned by the EmployeeName of EmployeeIn the Presence ofName of WitnessSignature of Witness62

APPENDIX GSample Confirmation LetterD<strong>AT</strong>EDear EMPLOYEE NAME:This letter confirms your employment with us as a full-time nanny for two children, ages 3 and 6, commencing onJanuary 15, 2001 for a term of one year.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerThe work week will be Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 5:00 with a 1 hour lunch break. The hourly rate willbe $17/hr. You will be paid every Friday, and we will give you a signed receipt. We will pay time and a half for everyadditional hour worked. You may choose whether to live-in or live out.Your responsibilities are limited to taking care of the two children, feeding them breakfast and lunch, and lighthousekeeping. Light housekeeping includes meal preparation and clean up as well as picking up after the children.You will receive two weeks of paid vacation per year to be taken whenever you choose as long as appropriatenotice is provided. Paid holidays include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr., Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day,Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Labor Day, and Christmas Day. If you choose to work on a holiday, we willpay you time and a half ($25.50).You will be paid when the family is on vacation whether or not you accompany us. If you accompany us, we willpay all of your travel and incidental expenses.You are entitled to 5 sick days and 3 personal days per year. We will pay 50% of your health insurance premiumsup to $200 per month. We will also secure workers’ compensation insurance.We agree to give you at least three weeks notice or three weeks severance pay if we no longer need yourservices. We request that you likewise give us three weeks notice before leaving the position.Sincerely,EMPLOYER NAME63

Rights begin at homeAPPENDIX HSample Demand Letter in New YorkD<strong>AT</strong>EDear NAME OF EMPLOYER,I am writing to you on behalf of NAME OF EMPLOYEE with regard to wages owed to her.WAGES DUEAccording to our client, you employed her at a rate of HOURLY R<strong>AT</strong>E/ hour during the period of D<strong>AT</strong>ES OF VIOL<strong>AT</strong>ION.NAME OF EMPLOYEE was never paid in full for her work. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York State law providethat domestic workers have the right to receive the minimum wage. See 29 USC § 203 et seq.; NY Labor Law § 650 et seq.OVERTIMENAME OF EMPLOYEE was never paid overtime for her work. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York State law providethat domestic workers have the right to receive overtime compensation at the rate of one-and-a-half times their regular ratefor hours worked over 40 in a week. [For live-in domestic workers: after 44 hours in a week]. 29 USC § 207; NY Labor Law § 170.According to our calculation to date, you therefore owe $ AMOUNT OWED in unpaid wages for the period D<strong>AT</strong>ES OF VIOL<strong>AT</strong>ION.If you are found in violation of these laws, you may be liable for the amount of unpaid wages plus liquidated damages.29 U.S.C. § 216(b); N.Y. Labor Law § 663.1. Under FLSA, liquidated damages may be equal to the amount of unpaid wages.29 U.S.C. § 216(b).Therefore, you should provide NAME OF EMPLOYEE with her wages as soon as possible. New York’s Wage Payment Act prohibitsthe unlawful withholding of wages and requires all wages due no later than seven (7) calendar days after the week in whichthe wages are earned. See N.Y. Labor Law § 191.1(a).When employment is terminated, the employer is obligated to pay wages no later than the regular pay day for the pay periodin which termination occurred, and by mail if requested by the employee. See N.Y. Labor Law § 191.3.NAME OF EMPLOYEE has the right to bring a formal complaint to the New York State Department of Labor or a civil action incourt. Such complaints may subject you to investigation and administrative hearings, penalties, and attorneys’ fees.DEDUCTIONS FROM PAYAccording to our client, you made improper deductions to her pay.The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) limits the amount of money employers may deduct from a worker’s pay for food andlodging. The FLSA and New York State law place limits on the circumstances in which an employer may make deductions.You improperly deducted $ AMOUNT OF ILLEGAL DEDUCTION from NAME OF EMPLOYEE’s wages for ALLEGED REASON FOR DEDUCTION.According to our calculations, you therefore owe $ AMOUNT OWED in unpaid wages for the period D<strong>AT</strong>ES OF VIOL<strong>AT</strong>ION.BREACH OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT/ AGREEMENTNAME OF EMPLOYEE is currently owed $ AMOUNT OWED in unpaid wages for work performed between D<strong>AT</strong>ES OF VIOL<strong>AT</strong>ION. Thecontractual agreement between you and NAME OF EMPLOYEE was to compensate her at a rate of $ HOURLY R<strong>AT</strong>E PROMISED perhour for her services as a domestic employee. According to NAME OF EMPLOYEE, she worked NUMBER OF HOURS, for which shewas not received payment. Based on your agreement with NAME OF EMPLOYEE, she is owed $ AMOUNT OWED for work performed.You should send a check immediately in this amount to NAME OF EMPLOYEE. The check can be sent to EMPLOYEE’S ADDRESS orCARE OF WORKER’S <strong>RIGHTS</strong> ORGANIZ<strong>AT</strong>ION AND ADDRESS.I write this letter in the interest of resolving this matter as expeditiously as possible. However, if we do not receive the wagesowed to the above employees within seven (7) days from the date you receive this letter, we will be forced to turn this matterwith the appropriate state or federal agency.Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions. Thank you for your prompt cooperation in this matter.Sincerely,64

APPENDIX ISample Work RecordsProtecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerSample Work RecordsRECORD KEEPING STR<strong>AT</strong>EGIESEmployer NameAddress City State ZipPhone #Job Description• Keep any payroll stubs or receiptsyou get from your employer.Employee NameFecha Hora de Entrada Hora de Salida Tarifa de pago Pago RealD<strong>AT</strong>E TIME IN TIME OUT PAY R<strong>AT</strong>E ACTUAL PAYMENTmake copies of all forms• share this sample form withfriends and co-workers.65

Rights begin at homeAPPENDIX J:ICE Policy Regarding Labor DisputesOI 287.3a Questioning persons during labor disputes.(Revised 12/04/96; Added to INSERTS April 99)When information is received concerning the employment of undocumented or unauthorized aliens,consideration should be given to whether the information is being provided to interfere with the rightsof employees to form, join or assist labor organizations or to exercise their rights not to do so; to be paidminimum wages and overtime; to have safe work places; to receive compensation for work related injuries;to be free from discrimination based on race, gender, age, national origin, religion, handicap; or to retaliateagainst employees for seeking to vindicate these rights.Whenever information received from any source creates a suspicion that an INS enforcement action might involve theService in a labor dispute, a reasonable attempt should be made by Service enforcement officers to determine whethera labor dispute is in progress. The Information Officer at the Regional Office of the National Labor Relations Board cansupply status information on unfair labor practice charges or union election or decertification petitions that are pendinginvolving most private sector, non-agricultural employers. Wage and hour information can be obtained from the UnitedStates Department of Labor (Wage and Hour Division) or the state labor department.In order to protect the Service from unknowingly becoming involved in a labor dispute, persons who provideinformation to the Service about the employer or employees involved in the dispute should be asked thefollowing: 1) their names; 2) whether there is a labor dispute in progress at the worksite; 3) whether they are or wereemployed at the worksite in question (or by a union representing workers at the worksite); and 4) if applicable, whetherthey are or were employed in a supervisory or managerial capacity or related to anyone who is. Information should beobtained concerning how they came to know that the subjects lacked legal authorization to work, as well as the sourceand reliability of their information concerning the alien’s status.It is also appropriate to inquire whether the persons who provide the information had or have a dispute with theemployer of the subjects of the information. Likewise, the person providing the information about the aliens shouldbe asked if the subjects of the information have raised complaints or grievances about hours or working conditions,discriminatory practices or about union representation or actions, or whether they have filed workers’ compensationclaims.Generally there is no prohibition for enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act, even when there may be a labordispute in progress. However, where it appears that information may have been provided in order to interfere with or toretaliate against employees for exercising their rights, no action should be taken on this information without the reviewof the District Counsel and approval of the Assistant District Director for Investigations or an Assistant Chief Patrol Agent.When Service enforcement action is taken and it is then determined that there was a labor dispute in progress, or thatthe information was provided to the Service to retaliate against employees for exercising their employment rights, thelead immigration officer in charge of the Service enforcement team at the worksite must ensure to the extent possiblethat any arrested or detained aliens necessary for the prosecution of any violations are not removed from the countrywithout notifying the appropriate law nforcement agency which has jurisdiction over these violations.Any arrangements for aliens to be held or to be interviewed by investigators or attorneys for the state or federalDepartment of Labor, the National Labor Relations board or other agencies/entities enforcing labor/employment lawswill be determined on a case-by-case basis.66

APPENDIX K:Statutes of Limitations and Minimum Wage Rates, 2004-09Generally speaking, workers have only a limited number of years in which they can bring a legal claimagainst their employers. This “statute of limitations” varies depending on the type of claim.Federal LawThe FLSA has a two year statute of limitations for actions to enforce its provisions, and a three yearstatute of limitations if the violation is considered “willful.” A violation is considered “willful” 63 if theemployer either knew that he or she was breaking the law, or was reckless about whether or not thebehavior was breaking the law.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic WorkerNew YorkNew York State has a longer statute of limitations than the federal law.A civil action under New York law must be started within six years of the incident, whether the actionis filed by the employee or the commissioner. 64If there is a good reason why the worker was unable to file suit during the six-year period, the worker mayask for “equitable tolling,” which, if granted, increases the amount of time available to file suit. However,this is only allowed in “rare and exceptional circumstances,” when the worker is prevented from exercisingher rights for some extreme reason.” 65New JerseyWorkers with claims for unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime compensation, or other damagesunder the New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law must bring their claim within two years. 66New Jersey also recognizes the principle of equitable tolling, if extreme circumstances prevented thetimely filing of a suit.ConnecticutThe statute of limitations in Connecticut is two years, meaning that workers who want to enforce wageand hour violations must bring their claims to the Department of Labor within two years. 67Connecticut also recognizes the principle of equitable tolling, if extreme circumstances prevented thetimely filing of a suit. 68 This means that in some circumstances a court will permit a claim to be assertedbeyond the limited time period.Statutes of Limitations for Wage ClaimsStatute of LimitationsFederal2 yearsNew York6 yearsNew Jersey2 yearsConnecticut2 yearsMinimum Wage Rates: 2004-20092004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009New York $5.15 $6.00 $6.75 $7.15 $7.15 $7.25New Jersey $5.15 $5.15 $6.15 $7.15 $7.15 $7.25Connecticut $7.10 $7.10 $7.40 $7.65 $7.65 $8.0067

Rights begin at homeAppendix LNew York Domestic Worker Bill of Rightssummary of changes to minimum wage (MW) coverage and overtime ratesMinimum Wage coverage before and after the passage of the Bill of RightsBefore November 29, 2010After November 29, 2010Covered:n Domestic workers, including full-timebaby-sitters, housecleaners, etc.n Live-out companions – all, whetheremployed by household or agencyCovered:n Domestic workers, including all babysitters whowork on other than a part-time casual basisn Live-out and live-in companions employed bythe householder and/or by an agency.n Live-in companions if agency/3rd party is thesole employer and client is not an employerExempt:n Part-time babysitters working inemployer’s homen Live-in companions who live in “the home of anemployer”Exempt:n Part-time babysitters employed on a casual basisChanges:The law takes out the exemption for live-in companions, and narrows the exemption forpart-time babysitters to casual, part-time babysitters.Overtime Rates before and after the passage of the Bill of RightsBefore November 29, 2010n Live-out domestic workers = 1½ x regular rateafter 40 hours in a weekn Live-in domestic workers = 1½ x MW after 44 hrsn Live-out companions employed by privatehouseholder or agency = 1½ x MW after 40 hoursn Live-in companions employed solely by agency= 1½ x MW after 44 hoursAfter November 29, 2010n Live-out domestic workers = 1½ x regular rateafter 40 hours in a weekn Live-in domestic workers = 1½ x regular rateafter 44 hrsn Live-out companions employed by privatehouseholder = 1½ x regular rate after 40 hoursn Live-out companions employed by agency =1½ x MW after 40 hoursn Live-in companions employed by privatehouseholder = 1½ x regular rate after 44 hoursn Live-in companions employed solely by agency= 1½ x MW after 44 hoursExempt:Live-in companions employed by private householderNo exemptions from overtime provisionChanges:n Live-in domestic workers now get 1½ times their regular hourly rate after 44 hours in a week as opposedto 1½ times the MW after 44 hoursn Live-in companions employed by the private household now receive 1½ times their hourly rate after44 hours in a week; they were previously exemptedn Live-out companions employed by the private household now receive 1½ times their regular hourly rateafter 40 hours in a week; previously they received 1½ the MW after 40 hours a week68

129 USC § 206. The US Department of Labor website contains links to the federal statutes and regulations.Statutes are available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/statutes/0002.fair.pdf (webpage unavailable as ofMarch 2010).Regulations are available at http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Title_29/Chapter_V.htm.2FLSA excludes “any employee employed on a casual basis in domestic service employment to providebabysitting services or any employee employed in domestic service to provide companionship servicesfor individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to case for themselves…” 29 USC § 213(a)(15). The federal regulations define companionship services as “services which provide fellowship, care,and protection for a person who, because of advanced age or physical or mental infirmity, cannot care foris or her own needs.” 29 CFR § 552.6. These services may include household work related to the care ofthe individual, and may include general household work to the extent that the work is incidental – doesnot exceed 20% of the total weekly hours worked. Id. If the worker spends more than 20% of her time ongeneral housekeeping duties she is not considered a companion. The companionship exemptioncurrently includes home health workers employed through agencies. 29 CFR 552.109.This interpretation of the statute was upheld in the 2007 Supreme Court case Long Island Care at Home v.Coke (551 U.S. 158). Casual babysitting means employment which is irregular or intermittent, and whichis not performed by an individual whose vocation is babysitting. 29 CFR §§ 552.4, 552.103-104.3NY Labor Law § 650 (NY Minimum Wage Act); 12 NYCRR § 142 et seq.; (Minimum Wage Order forMiscellaneous Industries and Occupations), available at http://www.labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/PART142s.pdf.4NYCRR § 142-2.4,-.18.Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Worker5NY Labor Law § 190-1.6NJ Stat. Ann. § 34:11 -56a et seq.; N.J. Admin. Code § 12:56-3.1 et seq. You can find New Jersey’s wageand hour laws on the New Jersey Department of Labor website at: http://lwd.state.nj.us/labor/wagehour/lawregs/nj_state_wage_and_hour_laws_and_regulations.html.7NJ Stat. Ann. § 34:11-4.2 et seq.8Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-58 et seq. If the federal minimum wage is ever raised above the state rate, theConnecticut minimum wage increases to the federal rate plus 1/2 percent more than the federal rate(rounded to the nearest whole cent). Conn. Gen. Stat. §31-58(j).9Conn. Gen. Stat. § 37-71a et seq.1029 USC § 207; 29 CFR Parts 778 and 785.1129 USC §207(a)(1).1229 USC § 213(b)(21); 29 CFR §§ 552.100,.102.13NY Labor Law § 170; 12 NYCRR § 142-2.2.See also Ballard v. Community Home Care Referral Serv., Inc., 264 A.D.2d 747 (2d Dept 1999).14NJ Stat. Ann. § 34:11-56a4.15Conn. Gen Stat. §§ 31-60, -76b.1629 USC § 203(m); 29 CFR § 552.100(c)-(d).1729 CFR §§ 531.1 et seq., 778.217(a), (b)(3). 29 USC § 203(m) permits the deduction of tips from wagesonly for a “tipped employee,” defined in 29 USC § 203(t) as “any employee engaged in an occupation inwhich he customarily and regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips.”18NY Labor Law § 193; 12 NYCRR §§ 142-2.5, -2.19-20,195.1. See also, Almeida v. Aguinaga, 500 F.Supp. 2d 366 (S.D.N.Y. 2007).19NJ Admin. Code §§ 12:56-8.1,-.8.20Conn. Agencies Regs. § 31-60-3.69

Rights begin at home2129 CFR § 785.21 et seq.2212 NYCRR §142-2.1(d).23NJ Admin. Code §§ 12:56-5.3, .5(a).24Conn. Agencies Regs. § 31-60-11.2529 CFR §§ 785.18-19.26NY Labor Law §§ 161-162.27Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51ii.28IRS Pub. 501, “Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information,” 2009, p 3, available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf. The threshold for taxpayers over age 65 was $10,750 if single and$19,800 if married.29NY Workers’ Comp. Law § 2(4), 3(1). Also see the NY Workers Compensation Board website for moreinformation on coverage of domestic workers: http://www.wcb.state.ny.us/content/main/onthejob/CoverageSituations/domesticWorkers.jsp.General workers compensation laws and regulations are available onthe New York State Workers Compensation Board website at http://www.wcb.state.ny.us/content/main/wclaws/newlaws.jsp.30NJ Stat. Ann. § 34:15-36 (containing no exemption for domestic workers).31Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-327(9)(A). In assessing whether worker is “regularly” employed over 26 hours perweek, the Workers Compensation Board looks to the twenty-six week period preceding the injury. Smith v.Yurkovsky, 2001 Conn. Wrk. Comp. LEXIS 110 (December 12, 2001). Case No. 4324 CRB-3-00.3226 USC § 3304(a)(14)(A).3342 USC § 1981.3442 USC § 12112.3529 USC § 621.36NY Exec. Law §§ 290, 296-B.37NJ Stat. Ann. §§ 10:5–5(f); 34-11-56.1(a).38Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-51(9).3929 USC § 211(c); 29 CFR § 516.2 et seq., 552.110. See also, Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 US680 (1946).40NY Labor Law § 661-2; 12 N.Y.C.R.R. § 142-2.6.41NJ Admin. Code § 12:56-4.1 et seq.42Conn Gen. Stat. § 31-66.43OI 287.3a Questioning persons during labor disputes. (Revised 12/04/96; Added to INSERTS April 99). SeeAppendix J. See, e.g., Patel v. Quality Inn South, 846 F.2d 700 (11th Cir. 1988), Singh v. Jutla & C.D. & R’s Oil,Inc., 214 F. Supp. 2d 1056, 1058-59 (N.D. Cal. 2002); Flores v. Albertsons, Inc., 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6171, No.100515, 2002 WL 1163623, at *5 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2002).44INA § 274A(a)(1)(A); 8 USCA. § 1324a(a)(1)(A).458 USC § 1324a (a)(4).468 CFR § 274a.1(h).478 CFR §274a.1(j).48These two forms are available on the DOL website at http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/750inst.cfm.70

49This form is available on the department of Homeland Security website athttp://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-140.pdf. Instructions for I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker areavailable at: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-140instr.pdf.50For these and other requirements of A-3 and G-5 visa contracts, see U.S. State Department,“Informational Pamphlet to Protect Guest Workers and other Non-immigrants” available athttp://www.travel.state.gov/pdf/Pamphlet-Order.pdf; see also US Department of State Foreign AffairsManual Volume 9 § 41.21 N.2.5118 USC §§ 1589,1595.52INA § 101(a)(15)(T)-(U).Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Worker53NY Penal Law §135.35-36.54NJ Stat. Ann. § 2C:13–8.55Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-192; 52-571i (civil action).5629 USC §215(a)(3).57NY Labor Law §§ 215, 662(1).58NJ Stat. § 34:11-56a24.59Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51m, -69b(a).60NY Labor Law § 691-93.61NJ Stat. Ann. § 34:8-51(a)(4).62Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-131.6329 USC §255(a). See also Herman v. RSR Sec. Servs., 172 F.3d 132, 141 (2d Cir.1999); U.S. v. Sabhani, 566 F.Supp. 2d. 139 (E.D.N.Y. 2008); Ramirez v. Rifkin, 568 F. Supp. 2d 262, 268 (E.D.N.Y. June 23, 2008).The Second Circuit courts generally leave the question of willfulness to the jury. Id.64NY Labor Law §198(3).65In U.S. v. Sahbnani, for example, the Eastern District of New York found that workers who were held inforced servitude, spoke no English and had no knowledge of the Fair Labor Standards Act were entitled toequitable tolling. 566 F. Supp. 2d 139, 146 (E.D.N.Y. 2008).66NJ Stat. Ann. § 34:11-56a25.167Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-596.68The Connecticut Supreme Court has applied equitable tooling in an employment discrimination case,citing the “remedial nature of the statute.” Williams v. Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities,257 Conn. 258 (2001).71

Rights begin at homeNational Employment Law Project75 Maiden Lane, Suite 601New York, NY 10038212-285-3025nDomestic Workers United1201 Broadway, Suite 907-908New York, NY 10001212-481-574772

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